Jul 29, 2021 08:00am
Reaching Your Community With the Gospel of Love

Changing your church’s culture is not easy, but it is possible with God’s help. 

The most important part of this attempt to improve the spiritual atmosphere and environment of your church is that it begins with you.  This is not a quick fix through a program or an outside source bringing change.  

First you must look within before you ever begin looking out.  A lot of soul searching and a lot of Spirit-driven plans must occur.  It begins with a change in your heart then changing your language by casting vision based on biblical values.  

Remember, the speed of the leader usually determines the speed of the team.

As you’re searching your own heart, ask yourself what you’re passionate about?  What things are non-negotiables?  You must be devoted to teaching God’s Word, prayer, and biblical community.  

Real transformation flows from the inside out, not the outside in. 

In Culture Shift by Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro they make several important observations about the importance of culture:  “Though invisible to the untrained eye, its power is undeniable . . . Culture is an enigma . . . It defies simple definition and is difficult to explain . . . your church’s culture can’t be ignored . . . become the way church was always meant to be.”

Your church is called to a ministry of hospitality. When discussing this kind of “others first” focus there is one inescapable word: love.  Everyone is created in God’s image (Imago Dei) and regardless of where they are in life or what they believe, your church is called to love them.  You must work diligently to develop a culture where everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect.  How does your church respond to people who are far from God or living a very sinful lifestyle?  Church is not a showcase for saints but rather a hospital for sinners, and there must be a loving environment built that says, “No perfect people allowed!” 

Your church culture should also be distinguished by an above-and-beyond generosity.  God loves a cheerful giver and Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  It is very noteworthy to realize that this is the only quotation, outside of the gospels, of a statement spoken by Jesus while He was on earth.  How do you want to be known in your community?  Do you desire to be seen as the hands and feet of Jesus?  

When people think of your ministry, what do they think of first? Generosity or stinginess?  There are a million excuses to not be generous but Scripture paints a picture of caring generosity.  

If your church would close down tomorrow, would it be missed?  A great example of a church making an impact in its community for Christ is Graves Memorial Baptist Church. They are blessing their community while making sure they are also providing people’s greatest need: the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”

For your church culture to change you must also be devoted to repentance.  Sin must be confronted and confessed. Proverbs 28:13 makes it crystal clear: “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.”  

You can scream at the culture you are in but what about your life and your church?  The Colson Center, which focuses on a biblical worldview, says, “Outrage is not a strategy.” Your church is to be a house of prayer and judgment should begin on the inside not the outside.

Culture Shift reminds us that, “If you have people with Christ living inside, then you’ve got all you need.  The right culture can be built by starting with what you already have.”  You need to remember that King David did not start with a dream team but rather built up a group of great leaders and warriors. First Samuel 22:2 says, “In addition, every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader. About 400 men were with him.”  

You can try to go free agency and recruit but why not dedicate yourself to building a farm system where you develop your own leaders out of the harvest?

As you look at the culture around you, you can mistakenly think that the darkness is the biggest problem and obstacle, but the problem is not a dark problem, the greater problem is a light problem. You should begin by repenting of not being the light you are called to be and not obeying the Great Commission of making disciples.  

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  On the subject of incarnating the gospel and being light, Dana Cole expresses it this way, “It is so much more fun to be light in the darkness than to be light in the light.”

Your church culture can be transformed as you devote yourself to Biblical teaching, fellowship, hospitality, prayer, generosity, and repentance. Your church has been called to be a house of prayer and you must allow judgment to begin in your heart and the hearts of your congregation (I Peter 4:17).

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