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Faith cultures

I think a great deal about cultures: I much prefer one airline over the others in my country, because of what I perceive as very different corporate cultures. All faith communities also have a culture. When I walk into a church, I get an immediate sense about the culture present. In the church world I wander in, I’m often discouraged by the culture I encounter: Too often it seems focused on a particular family group, dominated by white folks past retirement age. A church I visited a while back was lamenting the fact that their church was declining because it was “out in the country” too far removed from an urban population. My thoughts went to a church a few kilometers up the road from them that was thriving and building an addition. It seemed to me that “out in the country” had become an excuse which made it nearly impossible for them to see their potential in that rural community. The church had an identity rooted in an old self-understanding which produced a very tired, uninviting culture to anyone who was new in the neighbourhood.

What are you doing as a leader to keep the culture of your community current and inviting?
JLT

4 responses to “Faith cultures

  1. I dont disagree with your thesis but I think I may have been a leader in that church or at least one of the other similar churches in Christendom and the challenge of guiding that tired, uninviting culture towards something vital and current is HUGE. One of the better authors on the topic of culture and change is Graham Standish. I wish I would have had in hand his “Becoming a Blessed Church” when I was trying to lead one of “those” churches. I think I would have led differently.

  2. jimlt ⋅

    I think the invitation is not to get pulled into the prevailing culture around us and lead with our heads up. I agree leading in a tired uninviting culture is not easy. The invitation is to invite people into something beyond what they see around them. Too often I see leadership doing what the faith culture around them expects.

  3. Hans

    So having read the comments above, I am wondering… How do you change a tired old culture into something new and dynamic? If the prevailing attitude is one of dejection, pessimism and simply being worn out, you can’t simply turn that on a dime. You have to bring your optimism, your confidence in the Lord and the patience of Job to the table and then you will still be hard pressed to make any changes….
    Should we consider taking the old worn out culture and throwing it out entirely by shutting down and then re-starting the church?
    Or should we coddle each and every member into enthusiasm that may or may not be real?
    Or should we take a look at our leaders and encourage them to find new, younger or more excited blood to take up the reigns?
    And if we look for new or additional enthusiastic leaders, should we look in the church, or should we go to other churches looking for the right people? Or should we even consider going outside our denomination?
    Or should we simply sit back and get out of God’s way?

    • Jimlt ⋅

      There are battles we are called to deal with, others we are invited to leave-or not begin. We can only bring ourselves to the places we lead, not someone else. Some are called to begin anew, others to rejuvenate what is already present. I’ve done both: I was called to work in an existing church, and later felt called to begin a new one. We need to both guard our own hearts as we work when things are tough, and look on and fan the signs of life we see wherever we are. Looking at what isn’t working will burn you out. Buying into the discouragement is a distraction from what you are called to do. Trying to get people to do things burns us out. They may say yes, but then need to be encouraged to continue. Asking God for eyes to see what is happening is key. We need fresh vision. Sitting back and getting out of God’s way allows us not to be the center of whatever God is doing.

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