Spending extended time in a foreign country (with “regular” people rather than at tourist destinations) brings continual surprises. Things are done differently. You can’t take anything for granted. Food and clothing, manners and expectations, parties and transportation–all are different. Each country has its own culture. Culture is “the way we do things.” Learned when we are young, we don’t think about it. Only as we travel do we learn that things can be done differently in different places.
Sue Mallory, in her books The Equipping Church and The Equipping Church Guidebook, emphasizes that implementing an equipping system is not enough. A system alone will not make the deep changes necessary to move from a recruiting perspective to an equipping perspective. Changes must occur in the church culture, too.
The culture of the church is “the way we do things:” the habits, patterns, language, values, and assumptions that are shown in the behaviors of the people. It is taken for granted by those who have been in the church for a long time. Talking to visitors and new members can help long-time members see their own culture.
When a church wishes to become an equipping church, the current culture must be assessed. In what ways does it support equipping, and where does it hinder equipping?
Changing a culture is not easy and does not happen quickly. Leaders must present the scriptural basis for change and hold up a positive vision of the future, convincing others of the benefit to be received from the hard work of change. While talking the talk, they must also walk the walk, embodying the change, as they also “catch” others who are acting according to the new culture, too. Their commitment must be continual, daily, and must be planned for the long haul.
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