Al Menconi remembers shaking his head as he stood in a chapel service during the 1970s wondering how cultural influences could ever get worse for Christian high school students. After all, they were being exposed to such bands as Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult, groups he associated with satanic tendencies.
"Now we look back at the '70s as nostalgia," Menconi said. "All we were talking about then was rock 'n' roll because TV was basically innocent. It didn't imply that teenagers were having sex. It didn't show parents getting a divorce. It was rare when there was a motion picture that the whole family couldn't go to."
Decades later, Menconi is still addressing the cultural influences that undermine biblical values. Since leaving teaching in 1982 to form Al Menconi Ministries, the cultural expert has reached an estimated one million people through his presentations, books and other resources.
"I started in the '70s picking on the kids about their entertainment," Menconi said. "Then I realized that wasn't the issue. The issue was the parents relating to their children. So I started targeting parents on how to listen to contemporary Christian music, then communicating values and character."
Over time, his focus changed as it has once again.
"Where I'm at now, I really believe, I've hit the end game in this discovery of who we are in Christ and why we are created," he said. "We are God's creation for His pleasure and to worship Him. If we are involved in the affairs of this world, we are doing less than that."
Sensing that his ministry time is winding down as his age advances closer to social security benefits than that of a youthful mentor, Menconi has developed a new five-year plan to expand his reach.
"My goal is to teach others to teach others," he said. "I'm getting old, and I'm not going to go on forever. But what I focus on, I believe, is very important, and how I deal with it, I also believe, is very important."
A new approach
In order to effectively change a culture that has shifted so far away from biblical values, Menconi said he thinks the only true solution is revival.
"That's the only way that we are going to permeate the whole United States," he said, adding that if evangelicals can "capture 10 percent of the people to live openly for Jesus it will be a revival."
"It is a higher calling," Menconi said. "I want to see changed lives from inside out and then those changed lives change others."
He likened the approach to the one used by the Old Testament's Josiah, who was named King of Judah as a child of 8 after his father's assassination. In his adult years Josiah implemented many reforms and was instrumental in the restoration of some of the forgotten Scriptures of his time. He was also noted for the destruction of pagan altars.
"He was able to change a nation because someone spent time with that child teaching him how to love God," Menconi said.
He also pointed to the influences of former first lady Barbara Bush as an example of what can happen with proper teaching and instruction. Not only did she serve as a helpmate to a man who later became America's 41st president, but she also raised boys who grew to be another future president and a state governor.
"You don't know whom you are going to be teaching," he said. "It's like Barbara Bush; she had no clue that she'd be teaching a president character."
A 30-day challenge
To help advance his heart for revival, Menconi has developed the Christian Music Diet project, which is also working into a book. The project asks evangelicals to pledge to a 30-day commitment to avoid entertainment and electronic media, replacing it with music that helps focus on life from a biblical perspective.
"It's basically having a mountaintop experience while you are on the freeway," Menconi said.
Doing so, he said, would be similar to those summer camp and retreat experiences many Christians have experienced in small doses throughout their lives.
The distractions of modern media, including cell phones, tablets, video games, TV and films with anti-biblical messages all help to dull the focus of believers, he said.
Although the Menconis have and use a TV, he said they are selective not only about the types of shows they watch, but also in the amount of time they spend viewing those that do have biblical values. He cites Colossians 2:8 as the basis for the family's response to entertainment.
"Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ (New Living Translation).
"They didn't have the electronic media up on the mountaintop," he said of the camp and retreat experiences. "They had teaching, they had singing and they had fellowship and they had prayer, they had devotions and they came down here and turned on their TV, and it just went 'whishhhh' like a pin on a balloon."
For more information, visit www.almenconi.com.