Communicating with Today’s Culture
Christian Leadership Alliance President and CEO Tami Heim recently interviewed Carmen LaBerge a Christian cultural influencer who serves as a writer, speaker and Christian talk radio host. She will be a keynote presenter at The Outcomes Conference 2023 in Chicago.
Carmen’s passion is helping people reconnect the eternal with the everyday by equipping Christians to engage the culture in ways that honor Jesus. She is host of Mornings with Carmen LaBerge heard live Monday-Friday, 7-9 a.m. eastern nationwide on The Faith Radio Network, streaming at MyFaithRadio.com and via the Faith Radio app. It is also available as a podcast on Google Play, ITunes or via RSS.
Mornings with Carmen launched in Feb. 2019 building on the successes of NRB's Program of the year, Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge on Salem and Connecting Faith with Carmen LaBerge on the Faith Radio network. Additionally, ReconnectOne, Carmen’s daily 1-minute cultural commentary, was heard on more than 450 radio stations nationwide 2016-2020.
Carmen earned a Master in Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is author of Speak the Truth: Bring God back into the Conversation (Regnery, 2017). She has written for ChristianityToday.com, the Christian Post, and other outlets.
Recognizing the value of many voices lifting up a common message, Carmen uses her influence to bring together church and ministry leaders to stand together for the cause of Christ in the culture. Carmen is founding Chair of Common Ground Christian Network and has served on a number of boards including the National Association of Evangelicals.
Could you share about your passion to equip Christians to engage culture in Christ-honoring ways?
Thank you, Tami, for this opportunity.
For me, if there’s not an identifiable biblical mandate for a particular ministry then we must seriously consider whether or not it’s ultimately worth the investment of our life, time, talent and resources. So, I’ll start with a Scripture passage that comes to mind when you ask about my passion to equip Christians to engage culture, Ephesians 4:11-16:
“Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
So, I’m seeking every day to do my part in calling and equipping fellow believers to do their part that the kingdom of God might be advanced right here and right now.
An Ambassadorial Calling
Paul literally says that God is making his appeal to others through us.
The other animating passage for me is 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, which reminds us that we have a sacred trust to communicate the love of God responsibly that others would be persuaded to consider Christ. Paul literally says that God is making his appeal to others through us. That’s both amazing grace and a terrible responsibility! I am passionate that every believer would embrace and live into their ambassadorial calling to serve as a living demonstration of the gospel, always and in all ways.
How do you seek to engage today’s culture as you communicate on radio?
The issues are not the issue. God is always the issue, and people have issues with God. We live in a day and age when the spirit of the world is particularly contrary to the character and the ways of God. People imagine they can live with personal autonomy when, in fact, God has ultimate authority whether people choose to acknowledge him or not.
I seek to engage today’s culture by equipping listeners to cultivate the mind of Christ by getting into the Word of God, and then bringing the mind of Christ to bear on the headline news of the day. The message is multiplied and magnified as individual listeners walk their faith out into the world that God so loves in ways that honor Jesus. The world is made different as God’s people live differently than the world – in it but not of it.
What principles guide your communication?
I have a handful of principles that guide my communication. Most of them come from my mom who taught me things like: “You may be the only Bible someone else reads today,” or “Anybody could do it but be the somebody who does it, otherwise nobody will.”
My principles include:
- Anyone speaking in the current crowded and contentious context of today’s public square must understand that it is not “me” but “Thee.” Everything I say, although to an ultimately endless number of people, is really for an audience of One. I remain steadfastly focused on him.
- In a world that imagines love is God, I have to keep reminding myself and others that in reality, God is love. And, God loves people. He wants them all - even the ones I might find pretty unlovable. Therefore, I must speak the truth in love in a spirit of building up the body of Christ and not tearing it down.
- Finally, I aim for the bullseye of the target audience recognizing that there are many others who will overhear the conversation. I’m concerned that they hear God’s people talking about God, one another, and them with grace and truth.
What do you hope readers take away from your book Speak the Truth?
Many Christians in the culture today feel alone, and wonder if they’re crazy or if the world really has gone mad. I want readers to have the very real sense that they are not alone. I also hope readers experience a reorientation to the One who alone is Way, Truth, Life. My desire is that they be committed to handling carefully the Word of God. And I hope they're reminded that God’s redemptive plan and the Cross of Jesus are the center of human history and the main storyline, not any one of us or the times in which we live. Finally, I hope readers are equipped to anticipate and see how God wants to use them as agents of grace and ministers of reconciliation in our fractured world.
What would you add to your book, if you were writing it today?
I think I would frame the conversation differently today. I would temper the culture war language and opt for a description of the culture as a garden in need of cultivating, re-seeding, tending and working for a kingdom harvest of righteousness of ever greater abundance to the glory of God. Also, I would spend time talking about spiritual warfare. That is because I sense that few Christians today are sufficiently equipped to recognize and stand against the Enemy’s deceitful schemes.
How can Christians winsomely “bring God back into the conversation?”
Are we genuinely open to seeing people as divine appointments and not interruptions?
Preparatory prayer is key to the answer here. Are we genuinely open to seeing people as divine appointments and not interruptions? Can we tell when someone is ripe for a spiritual conversation? Do we have some go-to questions to ask or follow up phrases? Not every person wants to have a spiritual conversation. So, start where they are, be curious, listen, lean in. Be on the lookout (BOLO) for an opening to re-present Jesus. I also think its important today to be prepared to speak as one who possesses and is possessed by the very authority of Christ. We are the people who have the light and know the One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. What we have is a gift! Let’s not forget that.
What is your hope for the impact of “Mornings with Carmen LaBerge?”
My hope every morning is that God would be glorified and people would be edified. I hope Mornings with Carmen drives people to prayer, into the Word, and out into the world ready to represent Christ in the conversations of their day. I want my listeners to be the most well informed, winsome people in every environment where God sends them as his kingdom ambassadors every day. Oh, and I hope the Enemy feels just a little bit more defeated every day our show wraps. That gives me a particular sense of delight.
To learn more, please visit carmenlaberge.com