A few years back, I led a weekend retreat regarding church culture. Looking over that material this week, I have decided to revisit the topic. There were four topics for the weekend. They looked like this:
- What is Culture?
- What is Church Culture?
- What is Your Church’s Culture?
- What is a Biblical Church Culture? How Do We Get There?
I will, of course, edit and update. Feel free to jump in and make suggestions or criticisms.
Our topic is not church and culture. We are not looking primarily at how we deal with the culture outside the church doors, although that will come into the discussion. Our overall goal will be to figure out what our own church cultures are; what they are supposed to be; and what we need to be and do to affect positively the culture of our congregations.
Part One: What is Culture?
I. Intro and Definitions.
The word culture has a lot of definitions. For some folks it is an appreciation of good literature, music, and art. Some of us call that “Cultchuh.” In biology and medicine, it may be a colony of bacteria or other micro-organisms growing in a Petri dish. For people who are referred to as Social Scientists, culture is the full range of learned human behavior patterns.
Culture is an amazing thing. It’s slippery. You can’t always figure out what a culture is and where it’s going, because it really isn’t made up of tangible things. It isn’t buildings and machines. These are only products of our culture. Another thing about culture is that once you begin to figure it out it has probably changed.
Here’s the definition I’m going to be working with: Culture: The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation.
Some questions to ponder before I continue on this journey next week:
What do you think of when you think of culture?
How about the culture of France?
The culture of the South?
The culture of New England?
What are the differences?