If we are going to have churches where the community more fully reflects the character and ministry of Christ, we must understand the hidden power of culture. Like gravity, the culture of a congregation can either pull people down to their base instincts or lift people up to their redemptive potential. We create culture and culture recreates us. So what are the different elements that make up culture?
Anthropologist and theologians with an informed philosophical anthropology give detailed definitions of culture, sharing the various elements that make up culture.
As I’ve read on this topic, I’ve noticed that some authors make it very simple while others make it so complex that the average person has difficulty understanding what they are saying. Choosing to live between complexity and simplicity, my approach to culture includes six elements – language, artifacts, narratives, rituals, institutions and ethics. These elements interrelate to create culture and make up what I call the “cultural web.”
Another layer of depth in understanding culture requires understanding how the four elements on the cross each have three more elements. Narrative involves theology, stories and doctrines. Rituals include rites, practices and liturgies. Institution involves structures, systems and symbols and ethics include being, doing and reflecting. The book will not only help you understand these various elements, but how to create a missional culture in the congregation you serve.
I’ve put the different elements of culture on the cross, reminding us that the church is not just a social organization but has divine roots, and that the foundation of the church is Christ. The dove in the figure reminds us that the church is holy as well as human.
Download a Sample Chapter, compliments of InterVarsity Press.In Creating a Missional Culture, I help leaders consider practical ways to create a missional culture remembering the unique nature of the church. If you want to take a moment to assess the five environments which make up a missional culture, please take the time to work through the free cultural assessment. As you discern the strengths and weaknesses of the culture of the church you serve, read the book to discover how to do your part in helping create a missional culture, remembering that God has a part that we can’t do, and we have a part that God won’t do.