PART B: Shaping Culture

PART A: Diagnosing Culture

IMAGINE LEARNING COMMUNITY MODULES

PART C: Thinking About One Degree Shifts

Module #1
Everyday DNA
Module #2
Growing Together
Module #3
Our Time Together
Module #4
Sustaining Change
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Culture is like the air we breathe, we don’t notice it most of the time.  It is based on a set of assumptions that go unquestioned and therefore unchallenged which makes them deeply imbedded and very difficult to change.  In this module, we want to look at the ‘message behind the message’.  Imagine Church pages 70-79 has a great examples of church culture.

In order to think about what influences culture, let’s look at some specific ways culture Is impacted.  Five primary reinforcements of culture are the same dynamics that also bring culture change.

 
 
 

Culture is formed by:

1)  The language we use

2)  The expectations we bring

3)  The actions we take

4)  The assumptions we build on

 

Use these as a guideline, evaluate you church culture.   

How would you answer these questions in the context of your church culture?

Using the questions above, what is complained about in your church? 

In light of your answers, how would you summarize your church’s culture?

The heroes we highlight show the kind of people/character traits we esteem

 

Signs meant to send a message without words and communicates values

 

Organizational construction put in place to promote values

 

The things that are forbidden to be questioned or discussed

 

Ceremonies or rituals that reinforce value

Stories   

 

 

Symbols 

 

 

Systems &

Structures

 

Taboos  

 

 

Rites & Behavior

In order to think about what influences culture, let’s look at some specific ways culture Is impacted.  Five primary reinforcements of culture are the same dynamics that also bring culture change.

Since the Sunday gathering reflects your current culture, what you value is expressed in your stories, symbols, organization, taboos, and rituals.  The Sunday gathering then becomes the primary catalyst for change as you shift these factors to align with your new purpose.

 

Below are four illustrations of the various components that make up the Sunday gathering.  Each example is viewed from the perspective of two different services. One with an intentional focus on the 110 hours when scattered, and the other without.  What are the underlying assumptions in each?  What is the “message behind the message?”

 

Let’s start with the bulletin and announcements, then move onto other area.

Upon entering, people receive a bulletin listing all the events that will be happening in and around the church.  There is a special request for help with the church dinner.  Announcements are made from the front, encouraging everyone to attend prayer meetings for the upcoming missions event and the home group nearest to you.  There is a reminder to pray for the people who are sick and away from church.

Upon entering, people receive a bulletin listing events happening this week.  Along with requests for help with the church dinner, you’re asked to pray for someone who found a new job.  Announcements are made from the front, encouraging everyone to attend prayer meetings for all of the ongoing missions of the church, which also includes members of the congregation who have relationships with neighbors and colleagues, as well as an upcoming church missions event.  In addition to being reminded about home groups and praying for those who are sick and away from the church, everyone also prays for Elsie, who just retired from working as a school secretary, that God will find a new frontline for her and that she will be fruitful there.

Which of the 5 cultural dynamics is being used by each church?

What is the message behind the message in Church A and Church B?

How is culture being shaped at each church?

 

Happenings at Church A
Happenings at Church B

We all may see the same situation from different perspectives. This is why sharing insights with one another is so important.  In the example above, this is what we saw…

 

Stories: Both churches communicated what goes on in the church building, mentions those who are ill.  Church B brings the frontline into focus with prayer for new jobs and retirement—showing that all stages of life are important and can be used by God for his glory.

 

Systems & Structures: Prayer gatherings are a key part of many churches. Why we have them and what we do with them plays a large part in culture formation.  Both churches have prayer meetings focused on missions.  One for the mission’s event that has the potential to communicate that missions is something “others do.”  The other one also incorporates prayer for the ongoing missions of the church could be linked to each member of the congregation’s individual frontline.

Bulletin/Notices:  “Inches and Airtime” set priorities.  “Language,” one of the four factors determining culture, is communicated through printed material and announcements during the service.  For example, let’s use an illustration of how church culture can be shaped…

Sunday services are a prime opportunity to mold culture.  Think about the elements that go into a Sunday service.  Below are examples from two different church services, one with an intentional focus on the 110 hours when we are not gathered together, and one without. Think about the underlying assumptions in each church’s elements.  What is the message behind the message?

Greeting:  If you have a foyer in your church, this prime location provides the first opportunity to impact culture and shape what your congregation believes is important. What is the message, intentional or unintentional, communicated?

Happenings at Church B
Happenings at Church A

When people enter, they are welcomed warmly. They pass a board with the posters noting various church events in the area, along with a large map indicating where people in the congregation spend most of their time during the week.  This is next to pictures of overseas missionaries.  The heading across the board is: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” There is not a sign above the door as people enter for the service.  There is a sign above the door as the congregation leaves the service that reads: “Enter here to worship.”

When people enter, they are greeted warmly as they pass the board with posters listing various church events in the area, along with missions highlighting people and agencies working abroad.  The heading on the board is: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  As people enter for the service, there is a sign above the door that reads: “Enter here to worship.”

Which of the 5 cultural dynamics is being used by each church?

What is the message behind the message in Church A and Church B?

How is culture being shaped at each church?

 

Is there a one-degree shift could each church make to reinforce a culture of whole-life discipleship?

Think about the culture being shaped in your church.

Corporate Prayer/Worship:  What fills our worship, our singing and our prayers as a congregation gives voice to what we value.  How is each church culture shaped in their specific context?  What is the message behind the message?

Happenings at Church B
Happenings at Church A

The congregation is called to worship, encouraging you to ‘recognize Jesus is Lord of all that we’ve been involved with this week’.  Everyone stands to sing.  The screen in front includes local pictures of the town or city of the congregation.  The service moves to prayer.  Someone offers thanks that God has been with you all week in every situation, and has been working in you and through you.  They pray that you will hear from God both today and throughout your week, understanding who he is, so you can live more fully for him.

The congregation is called to worship, encouraging everyone with the words, “Let’s leave everything we’ve been involved with the week behind.  We are in a safe place now.  Let’s just concentrate on Jesus.”  Everyone stands to sing.  Beautiful landscape scenes fill the front screen as the service moves to prayer. Someone prays that God will come and meet you in this place, that you will hear from God this morning and you will understand who God is.

Which of the 5 cultural dynamics is being used by each church?

What is the message behind the message in Church A and Church B?

How is culture being shaped at each church?

 

Is there a one-degree shift could each church make to reinforce a culture of whole-life discipleship?

Think about the culture being shaped in your church.

Coffee Hour:  It isn’t just about coffee but about connecting people.  It is a way to help prepare people for their frontlines.  Volunteers for refreshment responsibilities have the opportunity to use and develop ‘people skills’ by connecting folks together in meaningful dialog.  Participants in the coffee hour are often able to share how God is using them on their frontlines and develop ways of communicating that become a natural part of conversation.

Happenings at Church B
Happenings at Church A

After the service, folks get some coffee, which is hosted by a team of people who will engage them in conversation and make sure that everyone has someone to talk to.  Folks possibly will find themselves talking about times they’ve been tempted to blend into the background at work, as was discussed in the sermon.  And, after all, may end up talking about football.

After the service, folks will often get some coffee, which is from self-serve carafes.  Everyone grabs some bakery treats, finds someone to chat with, and probably men end up talking about football.

Which of the 5 cultural dynamics is being used by each church?

What is the message behind the message in Church A and Church B?

How is culture being shaped at each church?

 

Is there a one-degree shift could each church make to reinforce a culture of whole-life discipleship?

Think about the culture being shaped in your church.

What gets rewarded?

 

What is the reward?

What do people complain about?

 

How do they complain?

Who are the heroes?

How do people know that things are going well?

"Culture is the concrete manifestation of your beliefs."

Instructions

 

Purpose

Modules are designed to be utilized by Imagine Learning Community Churches between sessions as a way to further develop ideas around creating a whole-life discipleship making church.  They are not required, but meant to be an additional tool.

 

Time

Each module is comprise of multiple parts.  You can complete the entire module in one sitting, or divide it into sections for deeper contemplation.  Overall, each part should take around 15 -20 minutes to complete.

 

Method

Modules can be completed individually or in groups, whatever works best in your context.  If done individually, we recommend discussing your take-always and one degree shifts with other members from your church in the learning community.

Denotes discussion opportunities for your church