In my two previous posts, Creating Culture: When Values and Life Don’t Match and 4 Ways Jesus Established Culture, we determined that leaders build the foundation for a church’s culture by what they do, especially in the beginning. We saw that it’s not about just starting programs, having gatherings, or copying the ‘successful’ church in your city, but discovering, identifying, and articulating your church’s DNA, because that’s God’s sacred calling for your church. Once there’s a sense of the DNA, work can be done to intentionally and strategically plan behaviors that establish the culture of the church.
Three Levels of Culture
Let’s first outline three levels of culture in order to give ourselves a framework from which to determine whether or not a culture is flourishing.
- Artifacts: buildings, office layout, way people dress, etc.
- Values: standards, principles
- Assumptions: default modes, unspoken rules for belonging or not belonging, etc.
There is an important interrelationship among the seen level (artifacts) and the unseen levels (values and assumptions); they constantly interact with and reinforce each other.
Keeping this framework in mind, consider:
– What are your church’s values?
– How might someone experience those values when they first encounter your church?
– How might one know whether he/she belongs in your culture?
My prayer is that we will be leaders who create environments and cultures for flourishing. I pray that we, in tune with Jesus’ leadership and through the power of the Holy Spirit, will establish flourishing churches—churches that are authentic, life-giving, growing, and reproducing, and it is my prayer that the people in our comminutes of faith will flourish as a result.
A Practical Exercise
The following exercise is designed to help identify flourishing. It is a communal exercise, and it works because we can see together what promotes growth, transformation, and maturity—what we call discipleship.
- Think of a time when you would say that you “grew like a weed.” Where did you experience deep transformation? What were the circumstances that allowed you to grow and/or learn rapidly?
- Tell the story to someone or write it down.
- Now go back and reflect on the story. What were the factors that enabled growth?
Capturing those factors in a large group, say in your congregation or team, enables everyone to see what attitudes and behaviors promote cultures of flourishing. You can then consider how these might translate into strategies and programs (the outward artifacts) that create the internal values for flourishing.
Remember, what you as leaders model, teach, pay attention to, and measure establishes culture. My prayer is that we create flourishing cultures.
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