Sunday, November 10, 2013

The personality of church culture

Have you ever noticed that the culture of a church or ministry is a distinct reflection of the personality traits of its primary leader?

There are many clues; some obvious and others subtle. Most churches are a combination of what follows, watch closely and you'll see it in your church. I've categorized a few:
  • Control Culture: The leader seeks to have input into, or control every aspect of ministry. Evidence of this type of culture is in staff and volunteers who feel pressure that their performance is never good enough. This feeling is compounded by the leader's weakness in interpersonal communication skills, lack of accountability, and unapproachable nature.
  • Numbers Culture: Evidence for relevance is driven by numbers: numbers of attendees; numbers of small groups; numbers of children in ministries; the amount donated on a weekly basis. Numbers matter more than relationships. Closely related to the Pedestal Culture.
  • Cowardice Culture: Evidenced by the use of executive pastor or staff to deliver bad news at direction of senior pastor. Senior pastor refuses to accept responsibility or be accountable for bad decision making.
  • Last-minute culture: All execution is last minute, even if planning is done months in advance. Most likely, planning and execution are done last minute. Little regard given for personal schedules of volunteers, and possibility of previously scheduled events.
  • Only my Ministry Matters Culture: Intra-church ministries and teams do not compare calendars, and cross-schedule events. So much for the idea of a body working together.
  • Pedestal Culture: Senior and executive staff who exhibit reclusive behavior, rarely interacting with "the flock," as if the very activity is beneath them, and perhaps best left for a pastoral care professional. Difficult for these individuals to come down off their pedestal and get a different perspective.
  • Excuse Culture: "Oh, it's because he's a musician." It's because he's a big picture individual." "It's because he's the teaching pastor." "It's because we're short-staffed."
  • The Miscommunication Culture: How can the church communicate the gospel, if it can't even communicate internally well?
Oh, I could go on, but it makes me tired just thinking of all the reasons why churches are so dysfunctional, and how they could be better. If only our leaders would listen as much as they talk!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How you think and what you think about matters

God is very interested in how we think. King David said in Psalm 139 v2 – You know my thoughts even when I'm far away... such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand."

God appeals to our minds and to our intellect. He is concerned with what we think about.

In Colossians 3:2 Paul writes "Think of the things of heaven, not the things of this earth." In Philippians he writes: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure and lovely and admirable."

God wants to guard our hearts and minds.

He sums it up in Romans 12:2 – "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."

God is concerned with how we think.

Such wonderful knowledge!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Writing a story worth telling

I started a new volume in my journal today.

Volume One was started in 1990, and it took roughly a decade to fill. Volume Two was stated in 2010, and it took 12 years to fill. This edition will be Volume Three – and we'll see how long it takes to fill.

I began this one differently. I wrote:
"When you let the Lord be the author of your life, he writes a story worth telling."
blank pages in my journal
It's a phrase I heard at church last week, and it resonated with me. It's not a new perspective.  But as a visual artist, storytelling through words is relatively new to me, even though I help the people I work with tell their stories every day.

Sometimes the author is able to begin the story from a blank page. In our lives, we find ourselves at a place where we want the story that is being written to be different, to have a happier ending, or from a different perspective. The author has no choice, but to start a new story that follows the narrative that's already been told.

I'm opting for a new author, and a new perspective.