RIVERSIDE, Calif. California Christians interested in public policy and culture will have easier access to training materials beginning in the new year.
Focus on the Family, which created The Truth Project, is partnering with the California Family Council to provide abbreviated facilitator training. The Truth Project is a 12-week biblical worldview DVD series that has been touted by public policy experts, including Ron Prentice, president of the California Family Council, which is based in Riverside.
"If there is anything the church needs, it's biblical worldview training," he said. "We as the church do not have a biblical worldview in which we filter things through."
Prentice, who said he believes The Truth Project is one of the best worldview programs ever developed, had been pushing his colleagues at Focus on the Family to step up training.
Previously, small group leaders had to attend a two-day training session before they could lead the study series. Through a special agreement with Focus on the Family, Prentice's group has been certified as the exclusive training entity for the state. The pilot program could eventually be duplicated by some of the 36 other state family policy councils affiliated with Focus on the Family.
The certification, Prentice said, will allow the council to broaden the reach of The Truth Project, which has reached more than 150,000 people nationwide. The abbreviated training sessions will be condensed to four hours. The first one is scheduled for January in San Diego, other Southern California locations are in the planning stages.
In addition to training pastors and church members, the council hopes to use the project to help build lasting relationships with thousands of churches in an effort to increase the church's role in defining California's public policy.
"We received a grant to take the project up and down the state," he said. "We plan an all-out attack over the next two years."
According to studies by the Barna Group, a leading Christian research organization, the church has become increasingly lukewarm about biblical worldviews. For instance, Barna found in a 2005 poll that just 35 percent of respondents contend that moral truth is absolute, while 32 percent believe morality is situational, meaning it ebbs and flows. The remaining third are unsure whether truth is absolute or relative.
In that same study, Barna used eight criteria to determine a respondent's biblical worldview. The criteria included the belief in absolute moral truth, accuracy of the Bible and its principles, salvation by grace not works, a sinless Jesus, duty to evangelize, Satan is a living force and God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe who still rules creation today.
By that definition, just 5 percent of adults qualified as having a biblical worldview. Among Protestants, the number nudged up to 8 percent.
"One reason why beliefs fluctuate is that most Americans hold few convictions about their faith," David Kinnaman, a Barna researcher, said in a news release after a similar study earlier this year. "For instance, even among those who disagree with orthodox views, many do so while hedging their bets. Most Americans have one foot in the biblical camp and one foot outside it. They say they are committed, but to what? They are spiritually active, but to what end? The spiritual profile of American Christianity is not unlike a lukewarm church that the Bible warns about."
Prentice said the Truth Project curriculum is designed to reverse those trends in intimate settings up and down the state. Among the possible platforms are "salt and light" groups, the name of a relatively new movement for Christians committed to influencing culture through public policy and politics.
"It's geared toward, it's created specifically for small groups," Prentice said. "The intension, the vision is that it would be watched in small groups, study groups."
Roger Wynott, who, with his wife, Karen, leads a salt and light ministry at their Southern Californian church, said 13 people have gone through the facilitator training offered there. From that training, three new studies have been launched with two more planned in January. Each group generally attracts six to the eight people, but as many as 15, Wynott said.
The public policy advocate said the materials are best he's seen in at least a decade.
"You actually come face to face with God in what He's doing in today's world and what we can do to be involved," Wynott said.
"Each individual in our group was totally overwhelmed with the materials and the impact that it's had on their life. It wakes you up to the fact that unless we are involved in today's culture, we are going to lose our influence in the world."
Wynott said he's hoping the ongoing classes will inspire people to get involved with any of a number of public policy groups including Concerned Women for America, California Family Council and Eagle Forum.
"We just don't have enough information unless we are involved in one of the groups," he said. "Otherwise you are really out of the loop in what we would perceive as salt and light in today's culture."
For more information on the training effort, visit www.thetruthproject.org.