Monday, March 22, 2010

The Culture Trap - Part 3

The culture of a church is so pervasive that the leader that undertakes any new direction that doesn't fully take into consideration the culture is likely to get caught in the culture trap. Changing the culture of the local church requires two important elements.

The first element is the necessity of the leadership of the church to define and introduce new appropriate language. Since words tend to lose their original meaning over time new words are needed to convey new ways of doing ministry.

Secondly, the leaders need to paint the vision of what it would like to have a local church where needs are being met, lives are changed, hearts are expanded and the great commission is being fulfilled. They need to use the new language along with the behaviors, activities and events that support the new vision. Examples of success in any area are celebrated, re-emphasizing and clarifying the vision utilizing the new language.

Leaders that learn to lead the church and lead the cultural change will likely avoid the culture trap.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Culture Trap - Part 2

The culture trap occurs when the general church culture reluctantly concurs with a new direction or desired outcome but every remaining value, assumption, activity and verbal clue indicates that the people are generally not on-board.

For example, the pastor may express a heart for the broken, the damaged and the lost and articulate a strong desire for the church to become more welcoming, to become more evangelistic and more inclusive.

These desires, even if presented well with good Biblical examples may be ether embraced or rebuffed by the local culture.

Changing the culture requires two important elements.

The first is that the leadership of the church must define and introduce new appropriate language. Words tend to lose their original meaning over time and a new language often needs to be introduced to convey a more appropriate or contemporary meaning.

Over the years, the word “stewardship” has lost its original meaning and today typically is associated with capital campaigns or the annual sermon series on giving in the local church. In the same way, the word “Worship” has lost much of its inclusion of prayer, exaltation and private veneration and is now typically defined by the 30 minute music segment that precedes the sermon.

New words are needed to convey new ways of doing ministry which is why we hear words like “missional”, “mentor”, “growth groups”, and “catalysts” in many of our growing churches.

What is the second necessary element to avoid the Culture Trap? Read part three of the Culture Trap, Monday, March 22.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Culture Trap - Part 1

Many people believe that culture is relatively permanent and rarely changes. While that is not true and culture actually is constantly changing, the culture of an organization is a very powerful force to be reckoned. The leader that doesn’t take into consideration the culture of the organization and even underestimates the strength of the culture does so at great peril.

Church culture is likewise powerful. While the force of culture may be unintentional and involuntary, it still influences all individuals and activities. People don’t necessarily talk about culture nor be able to articulate its nuances but nevertheless, the culture of a church will set rules of behavior for the types of activities that are to be embraced or avoided.

The culture trap occurs when the general church culture reluctantly concurs with a new direction or desired outcome but every remaining value, assumption, activity and verbal clue indicates that the people are generally not on-board.

How do we avoid this trap? Read Part Two of the Culture Trap, Thursday the 18th.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Church Warning

Does the church down the street need a warning sign?

Seriously, if you have been involved in churches long enough you likely have heard of some churches that should definitely come with a warning. The warning I would use for some of these churches is, "Danger, prolonged exposure to this church can be damaging to your emotional and spiritual health".

Unfortunately, all too often, there is ample evidence of abuse, neglect and usually an overdose of doctrine. In almost all of these cases, it's completely avoidable. Too many people love the doctrine, drama and emotion and are all too happy to interject their personal agenda into what is actually a very simple formula. The church is the Body of Christ and we are to reach out with the love of Jesus and care for people as Christ would in love. The scriptures tell us that love is to be forgiving, patient and kind, it's not to be rude or selfish or self-serving.

However, it's likely that because this formula is so simple and there are so few instructions in the Bible on how to "do" church that people interject more rules and regulations. These are likely man-made, not profitable at all and some are just stupid and abusive. Rules and regulations do not make people more spiritual, and conformance to a narrow walk doesn't mean that one is on the correct path.

While some traditions are fine, many traditions preempt that which is actually spiritually beneficial. The Apostle Paul fought against the rigid regulations that easily crept into the 1st century church. He wrote to the early church, "Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ" (Col 2:8)

Churches shouldn't need warning signs. Churches should just have welcome signs.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cragging with Ken

Cragging is defined as climbing or ascending from one level to another, without mountaineering equipment. While Cragging is rock climbing, it is usually shorter climbs with less gear (no ropes, carabiners, harnesses or hardware).

Cragging in the world of spiritual disciplines is also ascending from one level to another. It’s the process of growing in Christ, understanding who we are, where we need to go and acquiring the necessary spiritual tools to become more like Christ.

“Cragging with Ken” is a six-week , or better described as a six-session defined outcome program with three essential steps: Identifying where we are; Equipping and preparing for the next ascent; and, Seeking out the next ascent, or crag in our journey or climb.

Those wanting to go “Cragging with Ken” will meet Tuesdays starting Tuesday March 9th at 6:00 PM at Panera, Glenbrook. Other meeting times on Tuesday may be available as well. Call or email to inquire.

Let us know if you are interested in the journey. Email me at Kenneth.behr@gmail.com

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Our small Christian non-profit ministry recently requested and received approval from the IRS to be re-classified as a ‘church’.      ...