Culture is ‘how people do things round here’. It is the sum of the unwritten, observable patterns of behaviour, in any given group of people. It makes a difference.
It is important to understand the general culture of the people we are trying to reach, as it helps us craft the specific culture of our new congregations. We want to avoid erecting any unnecessary cultural barriers to the Gospel. We want our specific cultures to ‘work’, for them.
To do this practically, we usually have to find out more information about the people we are trying to reach. One way of doing this is to ask interested questions about their culture, such as: ‘How do people round here… …socialise? …organise? …learn? …celebrate? etc.
If we mirror the good (and/or neutral) parts of their general culture in the way we design our specific congregational cultures, we are more likely to do things in ways which they feel comfortable with. However, we must also be prepared that these ways might not feel comfortable for us!
The Apostle Paul chose to “…become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9.22). Are we prepared to do likewise? Will we place others’ preferences ahead of our own? Will we allow our culture to be shaped by our mission?
This blog contains the seventh principle taught to all new congregation leaders in the Joshua Centre’s Leadership Development Program (within the theme: ‘Lead A Mission’).