Category Archives: Help People Grow

Culture Creation

Creating the right culture is the most important task leaders can undertake to reach a broken, post-Christian society, and yet often we give culture creation very little mental effort.  In fact, because culture is largely unseen, we are mostly unaware of the cultural soil we have created in our churches, small groups, or ministries.

This explains why several churches may be trying to reach the same group with the same methods, but one just “feels” completely different than the other.  That intangible “feel” is the culture.

I became aware of this through Gabriella, a spiritually curious young woman who wrote to me about her past attempts of going to church:  

“I feel so much guilt and always feel like I just don’t belong.  So it was a very big step to walk into your church this past Sunday.  I have to say I was very welcomed by everyone, and I loved the service and teaching.  I just wanted to thank you and the staff for creating such a warm and loving environment for people to open up to even hear the message, knowing that whatever level they’re coming in at is okay—they’ll be loved for who they are!  I know with any organization that attitude comes from the top and is duplicated by the whole organization, which can be good or bad, but yours is GREAT!”

She had only been once!  Curious visitors pick up on culture in a church immediately, though it may be imperceptible to members.  Culture makes all the difference in the world in a post-Christian society.  This is why effective leadership must be synonymous with creating the right culture.  This is the glue that holds any organization together.  Culture creation forms the texture of relational life and community in a local church.

The outcome of an effective culture is an engaging BODY–a community of faith that God uses to transform individuals, neighborhoods, cities, and societies – the invisible God made visible through us. But it’s messy. How do you create culture?

  1. Leadership Mindset – How leaders think about themselves and the church creates the core from which the culture grows.  What picture do the leaders have in their heads of what Christ’s body looks and feels like, when we meet – in the lobby, in community, in the world?  How you think about Christ’s church will reflect how you teach and talk.  Are you living out the Way of Christ—are your unchurched friends becoming the church and the leaders of the church? Do you live out the values of a Biblically functioning community, loving one another?  Culture starts with how we think about ourselves and the church, and who it’s really for.
  2. Training & Values – How are you equipping your leaders to live out your values? Your front line leaders are the ones who most shape the culture, even more than what is said or done up front.
  3. Visionary Story-telling – What gets communicated over and over? What stories get told to reinforce what the church is about?  How are people supposed to act? Often you have to tell them who you are through the stories you tell, before they start becoming the church.
  4. Organization – If the church is an organism, the Body of Christ, it must function in a coordinated way.  Lack of organization hinders the Body from expressing itself in a diversity of unified parts.  Organization that’s too rigid doesn’t allow the flexibility the Body needs to fully express itself. Organization helps us live out the cultural values we claim to hold dear.  If we can’t help everyone get involved as the Body, the culture suffers.

Using Technology for Discipleship

One way to build relational bonds with the people who volunteer in your area, or the people that you are intentionally developing spiritually is using technology. I personally feel that the best discipleship environment is a small group or 3-4 running partners. That way, if the right culture is created in the group, the members of the group spur one another on even more than the leader could do alone. I find you really can’t spiritually develop people without face to face contact at least every couple of weeks. But Technology can significantly help bridge the gap relationally. Even as I was typing this, I got a prompting to shoot a text of encouragement to a guy I’m building into–it’s easy. But a lot of daily touches through text, email, skype, facetime can significantly increase your relational impact in people’s lives.

Get in the habit of regular daily Tech-touches with the 10 or so people who volunteer around you, or who you are trying to disciple or lead to faith. Here are some ideas, but get creative:
Text – Text a prayer you’re asking on their behalf. Cut and paste a verse from YouVersion and tell them it encouraged you and you wanted to share it with them. Let them know if God puts them on your mind to pray for them. See if anything in particular is up.
Email – Some people monitor email all day at work, if so, cut and paste a verse from with a short paragraph of your thoughts and note of encouragement. Email a weekly devotional thought to all your group, and find ways for them to do the same. You may want to set up a google group so that any email goes to all recipients. I have this with several boards and teams.
Skype / Facetime – I’m just amazed at how relational technology can be. We hold monthly ELI board meetings with multiple people on WebEx. I’ve done one-to-one counseling appointments on Skype.
Phone – Let’s not forget the simplicity of just a call or voicemail to see how they are doing.

We have options that we may not be using effectively to increase the relational depth of impact. Think about ways you can encourage, build up, spiritually shepherd those around you who volunteer or need spiritual input, and get creative with technology! It will never replace a small group or face to face meeting, but it does allow for increased touch.