Cultural Idols

In our sin, we Christians join others in entertaining idolatrous cultural assumptions and narratives. These cultural idols play roles in shaping the lives of people, yet they go unnoticed by the same people – again, Christians included. For these assumptions and narratives surround all of us like water surrounds a fish.

There is a need to show church members, perhaps especially new church members, various deep cultural assumptions that they have bought into, and to deal with these assumptions via God’s Word. Such “hold-over” assumptions from the world often include idolatrous patterns of thought and behavior. These are certainly subjects for Christian doctrine or teaching. Yet they are not typically covered in conventional doctrinal instruction, at least not explicitly or extensively. For instance, people can go through catechetical instruction on Baptism, yet still not specifically see the conflict between Baptism’s “I belong to Christ” and the “I belong to me” of Western autonomy.

In 2019, CID Evangelism Executive Ken Schurb surveyed CID pastors and asked them about such “hold-over” attitudes evidenced by new adult members of the churches they serve. The pastors identified the following as the “top five”:

  1. Above all, I want to be happy
  2. I do not make time for spiritual disciplines
  3. Meaning lies in me, not in what is outside of me
  4. I am more interested in my rights than in my duties (TIE)
    I am more interested in therapeutic advice than spiritual advice, say, from a pastor (TIE)

To assist preachers in addressing the first three of these, Dr. Schurb wrote a trilogy of articles containing “sermon starter” ideas. These articles have now all been published in Concordia Pulpit Resources

  • “Confronting Idols by Lectionary Preaching, Part 1: A ‘No Time for God’s Word’ Attitude,” vol. 31 (Nov. 29, 2020-Feb. 14, 2021):10-14.
  • “Confronting Idols by Lectionary Preaching, Part 2: An ‘Above All, I Want to be Happy’ Attitude,” vol. 32 (Nov. 28, 2021-Feb. 27, 2022):9-13.
  • “Confronting Idols by Lectionary Preaching, Part 3: A ‘Meaning Lies within Me’ Attitude,” vol. 33 (Nov. 27, 2022-Feb. 19, 2023):10-14.

In addition, he did Issues, etc. interviews on the first two of these topics. These may be found at and

As for the two topics that tied for fourth place in the survey, CID is happy to present 2 four-session Bible studies, one study on each topic. The one on rights-over-duties was written by Pastor Jeffrey Teeple of Peace Lutheran Church, Fremont, Indiana. It appears in a single PDF document in which all the participants’ materials precede the leader guides. The study on preference for therapeutic-type advice was written by Pastor Philip Rigdon of St. John Lutheran Church, Kendallville, Indiana. In this instance, there are four PDF documents, each of which containing both the participants’ and the leaders’ materials for a single lesson. These two Bible studies appear on the CID website with the permission of the authors, who wrote them initially for a Doctor of Ministry course at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. These authors are happy to make their work available to congregations of the Central Illinois District.

Rights and Entitlement by Pastor Jeffrey Teeple

Rights and Entitlement Bible Study (pdf)

Therapeutic Advice Over Spiritual by Pastor Philip J. Rigdon

Therapeutic Advice Over Spiritual Bible Study - Session 1 (pdf)
Therapeutic Advice Over Spiritual Bible Study - Session 2 (pdf)
Therapeutic Advice Over Spiritual Bible Study - Session 3 (pdf)
Therapeutic Advice Over Spiritual Bible Study - Session 4 (pdf)

For more information, contact:

Dr. Ken Schurb, Evangelism Executive
LCMS Central Illinois District
1850 N. Grand Avenue West
Springfield, IL 62702-1626
(217) 793-1802