When the Church Is the Church

The Colson Fellows Church Affiliate program provides churches with thorough training in Christian worldview and in-depth cultural analysis.


John Stonestreet

Kasey Leander

A recent study commissioned by The Wall Street Journal found that the percentage of those who selfreport valuing things like “hard work,” “community involvement,” “patriotism,” and “tolerance for others” has tanked in recent years. The only one value that showed a marked increase in the study was “money.” Our changing values reflect a deeply changed worldview and are the root of the broader issues we face as a society, including the heightened political rancor, the growing number of deaths of despair, and the loss of fundamental freedoms of conscience.  

It is to this cultural moment that God has called us. It is in this cultural moment that Christ has placed His Church to be salt and light. Over the last two years, dozens of churches have wrestled deeply with this cultural responsibility as church affiliates of the Colson Fellows program. 

Recently, we spoke with a few of the pastors who have implemented the Colson Fellows program in their churches as affiliates. That conversation can be heard in its entirety on an upcoming bonus episode of the Breakpoint podcast. Here is a sample of what these pastors had to say. 

Pastor David Beach described the congregation of Ascend Church in Tempe, Arizona:  

I am encouraged because the people that are in church today, they’ve kind of gone through the pandemic, the politics, the social issues—that fire of 2020 and 2021. And those who have left the church, they’ve left a group of people that are still all in. These are people that I would say have gone through the fire, and they’re like, “You know, we know who God is. We’re even more confident about it today than ever before.”  

Pastor Paul McClintock of Faith Evangelical Church in Billings, Montana agreed.  

We’ve even taken a step back and asked ourselves, “If Faith [Evangelical Church] didn’t exist, would our neighbors care or would Billings care?” And what does that look like? If the answer is, “Well, I don’t think they would,” we need to take a fresh look if that’s the case.  

And so that’s really our vision and focus. It’s nothing new. It’s what Jesus told us to do. And so how do we bring the kingdom and be the Church with our literal neighbors in our neighborhood? And if every one of us did that, you know the impact a church that this size could have on Billings, I think we’d light the place up a little bit. 

A former colleague often said, “The Church is God’s plan A, and there is not a plan B.” The Colson Fellows Church Affiliate program provides churches, from every denominational background you can imagine, with thorough training in Christian worldview and in-depth cultural analysis. Pastor McClintock described the impact this training had on his church.  

When we embrace that we are image bearers of God and so are those people that we disagree with, it really changes how we relate to culture and stand for God’s truth, but also love people. One particular story really coming out of that, that I’ve heard is, is how some of our folks that are going through Colson Fellows now, and they might have a disagreement or, you know, want to be short with somebody, they kind of say to themselves, “Imago Dei, Imago Dei, Imago Dei,” three times in order to understand that this person is somebody that Christ died for as well. And “I’m called to love them. I may not agree with them or adopt their theology, but I’m still called to love them.” 

There are nearly 60 Colson Fellows Church Affiliates in addition to the ever-growing list of regionally based cohorts. Thanks to generous donors, church leaders who hope to plant Church Affiliates programs in their churches can complete the Colson Fellows training free of charge and start the affiliate the year after.  

To learn more, go to

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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