Discover the Culture (vs. Set the Culture)

I think it’s more important to discover culture than it is to set it.

What I mean is that we’re always trying to impose our culture onto our team and church. Or maybe more subconsciously, we have unspoken expectations of our team and church that irritate, depress, confuse, or exasperate us.

We have either these idealized visions (from being inspired by other churches), or prophetic visions (from time spent with God), or self-actualized visions (from trying to meet personal needs through ministry). Sorry, I got a little deep there.

But what if, what if rather than trying to plant our culture flag on whatever group we lead, we become explorers? What could we discover? What if we actually became insatiably curious about the culture of the people God has brought us?

Oh, we’ll still totally be ourselves and we still have a call from God to be about the Father’s business, but how we go about that call might look really different.

How does the people God brings us shape our culture? Our team’s culture? Our church’s culture?

I don’t mean that if your team is all slackers, that you just roll with being a slacker. But you might relax more than you natively would. Or if they are sarcastic, that you allow the “tearing of flesh” (what the word sarcasm actually comes from), but rather that you would uphold scriptural teaching of being honest in our love and gracious in our speech.

But we get so caught up in looking like other “successful” churches that we miss the super-important step in establishing a great culture: discovery!

It’s like this. Your people come in, grab a cup of coffee, and enter the auditorium. (God forbid we call it a sanctuary anymore! I digress…) Instead of getting irritated at their apparent lack of ability to “dive deep right into worship on the first note,” (because they are SO lukewarm…) what if we tried this:

“Good morning, friends. You know the way a cup of coffee warms your hands? That’s kinda like when the Holy Spirit warms your heart. A big part of the reason we gather is to meet with God. So as we sing this first song together, open yourselves to the Holy Spirit and pay attention to the way He is wanting to connect with you. It may feel like Someone is warming your soul as He comes near.”

Maybe that’s cheesy or you’re not the leader, so you can try this approach:

Think of some of the people at church that typify a crowd that’s a different culture from yours. (You can see them right now, can’t you?! :) ) Get together with them and learn about them. Have them tell you their life story. Ask them what they find meaningful and meaningless at church. Ask them how they connect with God best.

As leaders, we are called to shape culture. But a very necessary (and often omitted) step is to first discover the culture you’re in. After all, Christopher Columbus didn’t set out to discover America. And it was Leif Eriksson that actually discovered North America. What whole new land could you reach if you just put on your explorer's eyes?


- Dave

ps. Are you coming to the Drums and Sound Clinic LEVEL TWO on March 21? It's going to be a great hands-on learning experience! Register here.

pps. And did you hear that Paul Baloche will be joining Meredith Andrews as two of the leaders at this year's Atoma Conference? (and I'll be there too!)