An Important Look Into Your Church’s Culture – Part 5

Values are the building blocks of culture. In the local church, what we value (or prioritize) ultimately determines our effectiveness even more than great visions and plans. The best ideas will ultimately either be driven by or succumb to your values. As someone has wisely observed, “Culture eats vision for lunch.”

In a struggling local church, it’s usually the values that have created such reality. While the people will nod approvingly at the right priorities, their actions belie a list of things they treasure more. So, do we want to be a friendly church? Sure. Do we want the church to take care of us? Maybe even more. And when that’s the case, inward focus trumps our desire for new people. The list of other similar stories seems almost endless.

In churches where values must be re-written, pastor must become an intentional discipler or mentor. Preaching values won’t get the job done alone. Again, someone has noted, “It takes a generation to change values.”

Now, that’s discouraging and it doesn’t have to be true. With some intentional effort, you can speed up an otherwise frustrating process. Without such steps, however, your church won’t change for you any faster than they would for the last pastor. In fact, you may find them even more resistant than before.

So, what can you do? I’d suggest choosing a couple of individuals of your same gender and start meeting weekly together for coffee, breakfast, or some other consistent and comfortable setting. Talk life–theirs!

Use this setting to learn about their lives, the way they think, and how they live their faith each day on the job. Don’t be preacher in such moments, but share your own values along the way. Let these relationships build naturally and soon you’ll be able to help shape these friends’ values in similar ways to your own. By investing time with them, you will begin to disciple them and they will get to know your heart. Be patient and consistent–it takes more than one cup of coffee to change a life!

You see, many pastors in struggling churches look to Sunday as their key opportunity to bring new direction. But these folks have already sat through a lot of Sundays and some of their unhealthy values have remained intact. Don’t think you can preach your way to a new day. You’re going to have to get closer to your people than that.


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