Last month in the Park Post I wrote about church culture. Every church has a certain culture, and it is not always positive! Some cultures may feel unfriendly, cliquish, or intolerant. Some church cultures might be too serious and formal; while others might feel too casual or unprofessional. A culture is shaped by the behaviors that are demonstrated, celebrated and tolerated. So, sometimes a culture does not line-up with the stated values or goals of what a church hopes to be—a culture might be negative and unintentional.
So, here at Park, we want to be thoughtful, deliberate, and consistent when it comes to our culture. We want to live out what we have said is important.
This summer the elders have discussed important parts of our church’s identity. I’ve looked over these responses, and I’ve compared them to our stated core values, mission and vision. We want to be about “growing in faith, building community, and going to serve others”.
But, we’ve considered not just what the church has written down on paper, but also how we have lived out our priorities. What do our behaviors, programs and committees reveal about our culture? It is also important to prayerfully consider what God wants from us. Together this month, we’ve been looking at the 7 letters to the churches in Revelation and we’ve studied these to help us see, “What kind of church does Jesus want us to be?”
Now, in this Park Post we are revealing 9 important pieces of our church culture that we want to be intentional about. This list isn’t trying to create something new. It is a discovery process of what’s already here and what’s important; and then, trying to find a way to organize it, communicate it, and remember it. It’s a list that also keeps us striving to improve. We have plenty to learn and room to grow.
We have worked with a graphic artist (Cindy Mouw) to create some simple clip arts that will help us visualize our culture and priorities. Now, in the coming months ahead, we hope to use this artwork and the concepts to dig into these categories more and to be clear and intentional with our congregation, and those who visit with us, the kind of church that we want to be.
I don’t consider all this to be a final product. There may be adjustments, additions, or new ideas to include. Plus, each category can be better defined. For example—one priority is to “Make New Disciples through Relationships”. Well, back in January and February we had a sermon series called “Missionary Training”. We read together Yancey’s book Vanishing Grace, and discussed some Biblical values and strategies in reaching out. On the last Sunday of that series, we had a commissioning to send all us out as missionaries. Now, thinking about what we’ve already been learning, a next step is to write-out a clear strategy for our congregation to follow. I want to take that value of “Making New Disciples” and expand it and better explain it—with the help and feedback of the outreach team.
So, our goal is bring more clarity, more intentionality, and more focus to our church culture here at Park.