Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A journey of Culture

Well, my world has OFFICIALLY been rocked! Not like Wanda from "In Living Color" but my world has been rocked in a different way.

I've recently become a fan of Erwin Raphael McManus. I like his communication style and all that. Plus, anybody chill enough to refer to himself by his FULL name is worthy of some attention. Not his 1st two initials - but his full name - he's a "g." (Retro 90's hip-hop term for those not in the know. To be a "g" is a good thing, just trust me.)

Anywho, I read one of his postings about broken people and he mentioned the concept of our "ethos" in our local churches. So I got to researching the word ethos and found a profound definition of the word.

e·thos [ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] –noun
the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.

WOW! The fundamental character or spirit of a culture! That REALLY got me thinking "what is the fundamental character of the culture in my church? What is the culture of my church?" Now, when I say culture, I don't mean color or economic background. In the context of my church and youth ministry, those barriers aren't there. Our church and youth ministry has bypassed the barriers of color and even denominational history to allow people to come together under the banner of Jesus! So when I mean culture I don't mean black or white or even hip-hop or rock. I mean the values, the closely held beliefs that influence the regular decisions. Is the culture of our church inviting for people who are messed up with tons of baggage and want help? Or are closed to just the people who already have it together? Are we a culture of authentic expressions of faith or do we as whole promote the ideas of just going through the motions? Do we genuinely love people or do we just tolerate them until they cross us? Are we a culture of servitude and generosity or are we selfish Christians and the world can suffer for all we care? Can people come in with problems and see people getting free and being whole or are we just a gathering place for hurting people making no progress? What kind of culture do we promote? What kind of culture do we live in and (as leaders) create in our church?

For me, this was earth shaking. So, I have begun to explore my own culture. As a leader, its my job to create the culture that I want see in my setting. If I leave it to the people, I may have a culture that I don't want. A culture that doesn't promote the fullness of God in the lives of people. A culture that doesn't encourage people to "get into the presence of God, to grab hold of His plans, purposes and promises and to go show every race and culture a living picture of God's love."

The next year will for me, my leaders and my youth ministry will be a year of a journey. A journey of culture. A journey to define culture and in many ways defy culture at the same time! This will be exciting!

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