So what happens when leaders discover that they need to change the culture of their church? What happens when leaders have their eyes opened to the fact that their congregation is falling short of being on mission with God? What do leaders do in order to reshape the culture so that they can be more than a church that happens to do “missional” things and actually become a new kind of “missional” culture?
Well, first start with JR Woodward’s book Creating a Missional Culture. This a a great introduction to how culture works within a church setting. JR provides helpful handles that help you get beneath the surface of your culture with simple questions about five different environments. These questions provide ways of talking about what no one has the ability to talk about. (In other words, they help fish understand the water they swim in.)
In addition, his direction about the way God reshapes the cultural web of a local church gives leaders proactive ways for moving forward. By looking at the four parts of the cultural web, he guides leaders forward to see how they can answer keys questions about how they live and think actually lines up with what they want to be. These four parts of a cultural web include:
- Narrative—What is God’s calling for our church?
- Rituals—What are our core practices?
- Institution—How will we fulfill our calling?
- Ethics—What does it mean for us to be faithful and fruitful?
JR writes, “As coworkers with God, we create culture and culture reshapes us” (31). He adds later, “Spirit-shaped leaders create missional culture, and our approach to leadership and structure is not neutral” (76). This book advocates for a radical approach to leadership when compared to traditional approaches, one that is neither democratic nor autocratic. It calls for a way of leading that fits the call to mission because it reflects the way God relates as Trinity. It will challenge your assumptions while at the same time providing practical steps forward.
For a more extensive review of this book see Len Hjalmarson's blog.
If you want to learn more about the author, check out JR Woodward's blog.