What Is Culture and How Does It Work?

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One of the most valuable but neglected keys to leadership success is the ability to harness the power of culture. Culture is much like an oil deposit that sits under the land you own. If goes unharnessed, it will sevisuep up to the surface of your ministry and pollute the soil of your church but if you drill deep into the deposit and channel culture correctly, you can mine the wealth and produce great things. Unfortunately, most leaders are so focused on the outward aspects of ministry such as attendance, budgets and programs that the power of culture goes untapped.

Culture is a combination of our values, priorities and practices, along with our traditions, symbols and expressions, that root us to our past, fuel us in the present and guide us into our future. Culture is a governing force that influences the beliefs and behaviors of a group, organization or community. Culture is to community, what discipline and habit are to individuals. Culture is like the banks of a river that keeps the chaotic, individualized streams of community flowing in the same general direction for the benefit of all.

Culture exists in every group or community of people, whether we like it or not. It can be intentional or accidental, positive or negative, helpful or harmful. Culture can be cultivated and transformed or it can be ignored and neglected, but in any case it will continue to function and affect the effectiveness of everything we think and do. If we harness culture in an intentional way, we can create great movement and momentum. If we neglect intentional culture development, it will continue to happen but the result is often stagnation or worse, chaos and conflict.

Culture is rooted in values that are very much like the DNA of the human body, unseen but absolutely influential. Values are the often intangible, assumptions and ideals, by which we determine the relative worth one thing as compared to another. Values are essential in defining our priorities, which ultimately dictate our allocation of time, energy and resource. Values and priorities express themselves in “practices,” which are the things we do naturally, because we want to, and not because we “should.” Our practices are the truest indicator of our “actual” values and priorities as opposed to our “aspired” values that rarely seem to find their way into our calendars or our checkbooks.

The biggest mistake a leader can make is to underestimate the power of culture and to fail to cultivate the kind of culture that will most effectively empower the community to fulfill its mission. If you don’t intentionally develop culture, the strongest personalities or tradition will determine the culture. At PastorsCoach we have identified a number of cultural components that are essential to build a thriving church. We will be sharing about some of these over the course of our upcoming MasterClass.

  • Mandate and Mission
  • People Development
  • Presence and Power
  • Prayer and Worship
  • Gospel Outreach
  • Societal Impact
  • Love and Honor
  • Care and Community
  • Truth and Transformation
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • Administrative Excellence
  • Strategic Planning.

Although each of these cultural elements are things that every believer should aspire to, there is often a disconnect between the values we espouse and the values we actually live by. It requires honesty and humility to adopt a Kingdom Culture.


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