*culture is not optional was started by a group of friends from Dordt College who wanted the community atmosphere they had enjoyed on campus to be sustained after college. At a Pennsylvania campsite in August of 2000, several recently graduated Dordt students admitted that leaving the comforts of a Christian college left them longing for more supportive relationships with other like-minded believers. For Rob and Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma and Grant Elgersma, this camping trip attested to the importance of having an environment, outside of academic institutions, where Christians striving to be effective servants in God’s Kingdom could connect with other such believers.
At the encouragement of founding board members Jerry Vreeman, Bill Boerman-Cornell, Jason VandeBrake, and Grant Elgersma, Rob and Kirstin decided to commit themselves full-time to starting *culture is not optional, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting and equipping Christians for practical service in God’s Kingdom. The name, taken from Calvin Seerveld’s book, Rainbows for the Fallen World, suggests that Christians ought not avoid secular culture. Rather, Christians are to cultivate God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Since many believers feel alienated from one another, even in their own churches, and since many people move around often and are spread out geographically from each other, a website seemed like the first and best way to help develop a sense of togetherness among Christians who want to be faithful Kingdom servants in a secular culture. The *cino vision was to start with a website that would unite Kingdom servants for effective service within the context of contemporary culture. With this vision in mind, *cino developed modes that could be taken up immediately or sometime in the near future by members of *cino.