Culture is the environment where something thrives or fails. A church’s culture is made up of beliefs, practices, habits and history (or perception of history). These shape common behaviours throughout a group of people, influencing ideologies and personalities.
Many of us think disciples are made by the programmes that we run within our church community, but this is not the reality. The battle of discipleship is lost and won in your church culture. There may be engagement with fundamental teaching and courses but if the culture that they are in isn’t a discipleship-making culture, they will struggle to thrive. An important core principle of an apprenticeship culture in any sphere is a strong foundation of coaching reinforced by regular feedback to help the apprentice develop into a qualified ‘craftsman’ and, in many cases, a future leader.
This holds true within a disciple culture; discipleship is highly relational, highly engaging, and requires high levels of trust and support.
A course is only as good as the culture that it is taught and shared in.
Within our leadership role, we clearly shape the culture by our behaviour - we communicate what’s valuable by the way we act. If we want to shape our culture, then we need to relentlessly be communicating these values in as many ways as possible. When time and resources are short we default to processes and programmes in our rush to get the job done, but in doing so we can neglect the hard and important work of culture building.
Until our gatherings focus more on equipping the saints with Christ’s toolkit, we will continue to struggle to make disciples. If we focus our time on shaping a mind but not also connecting the heart with the hands, then we are missing the whole life of a disciple.
To learn more about a discipleship culture we would love to encourage you to read "Leading and Shaping a Discipleship Culture: Six Essential Shifts for Creating a Culture of Biblical Discipleship" copies can be purchased from here.