Two weeks ago, Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and I led a time of teaching and discussion centered around our new book Creature of the Word. We challenged leaders to center their churches, not merely their confessions, on Jesus. One of the questions from the audience revolved around analyzing and changing the culture of a church.
Because culture is what the church collectively values, I believe you can quickly get a snapshot of the culture by looking at the heroes and the stories. Both heroes and stories reveal what is deeply important. Who the church holds up as the heroes to emulate and what the church celebrates as “a win” reveals the culture.
In the same way telling another story and celebrating a new set of values can change a culture. Or as Plato once stated, “What is celebrated is cultivated.”
Practically, if you want to build a culture of “mission engagement” in a church, for example, you point continually to our Hero, Jesus, who stepped into our depraved world to rescue us. And you constantly tell stories of people and groups in the church who are living on mission for Him. If you want to build a culture of “service,” you continually point people to Jesus who served us and you celebrate the volunteers who are sacrificially serving in response to His grace.
As you consider your church’s culture, remember that what you are celebrating, you are also cultivating. Change is possible––and it comes through heroes and stories.