driving forces in this new religious landscape

Topic 2. Culture and Vitality
 A dictionary would define culture as the
sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that
distinguish one group of people from
 Culture is transmitted from one generation
to the next through language, material
objects, ritual, institutions, and art.
Church Culture
 Culture is to the church what a soul is to the human body.
 It is an overall life force that the Holy Spirit uses to give
energy, personality, and uniqueness to everything a body
of believers says and does.
 Church culture influences everything you do. It colors the
way you choose and introduce programs. It shapes how
you select and train leaders.
 Your culture is the lens through which you view your life. If
you change the lens, you chance your outlook. Change the
culture, and everything else changes, including the future.
(Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro, Culture Shift: Transforming
Your Church from the Inside Out)
The Mission of Southwest Airlines
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to
the highest quality of Customer Service delivered
with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual
pride, and Company Spirit.
To Our Employees
We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work
environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal
growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for
improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all,
Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and
caring attitude within the organization that they are expected
to share externally with every Southwest Customer.
A Story of Culture
A father of two officers in the Army wrote to us about an
experience he had on a recent flight. He was returning
home after a visit with his family before his son’s
deployment overseas. Onboard the flight in the front row
was a soldier recovering from wounds he had received
while on duty. Our Phoenix-based Flight Attendant used
the airplane’s PA system to introduce the soldier to the
cabin. The father continues his letter by telling us the
Flight Attendant told the soldier’s story in a sincere and
respectful manner, and then she bent over and kissed
him. The cabin erupted into applause, and tears came to
the eyes of this father of two. He closed by saying that
Southwest is lucky to have such awe-inspiring
Employees. Amen to that!
Church Culture
 Culture is who we are and the world we have
created to live in. It is the predictable patterns of
who does what and habitual strategies for telling
the world about the things held most dear. A
culture includes the congregation's history and
stories of its heroes. It includes its symbols,
rituals, and worldview. It is shaped by the cultures
in which its members live (represented by their
demographic characteristics), but it takes on its
own unique identity and character when those
members come together.
Church Culture
 Understanding a congregation requires understanding that it is a
unique gathering of people with a cultural identity all its own.
 A congregational culture is constructed out of theological and
denominational traditions, expectations from the larger culture,
patterns of social class and ethnicity, and the like. All those
things are carried into the congregation by its members and
leaders. Whenever any of those elements changes, the
congregational will inevitably change as well. . .
 Congregational culture is more than the sum of what people
bring with them and more than a mirror image of the
theological tradition they represent. It is a unique creation,
constructed out of their interaction together over time.
Viewing Your Church as an Outsider
Imagine that in the last month people form your community participated in
your church's worship services, sat in on church programs, met several core
people, and learned a bit of the history of your church. The goal is to
describe your church's invisible cultural "megaphone" as it is perceived by
an observer.
1. What values are communicated most strongly when someone
approaches your church from the outside?
2. What would an outsider, after sitting through several worship services,
say your church values most?
3. What are outsiders' two of three leading perceptions of your church,
after they have participated for a month in a variety of your church's
programs and ministries.
4. How would an outsider describe the spirit (or attitudes) most prevalent
at your church?
Read over your impressions, and sum them up. List a handful of values that
the church seems to be broadcasting. How do they compare to what you
want to be known for?
Characteristics of Parish Vitality
 Passionate Spirituality & Growing Spiritually
 Meaningful & Inspiring Worship
 Parishioner Involvement in the Parish
 Small Groups & Faith Formation
 Sense of Belonging
 Caring for Children and Youth
 Focusing on the Community / Outreach, Service, Advocacy
 Sharing Faith & Evangelization
 Welcoming New People
 Empowering Leadership
 Gift-based Ministry / Lay Leadership
 Collaborative Leadership
 Looking to the Future
Culture: Visionary Congregations
Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary.
Isa Aron, Steven Cohen, Lawrence Hoffman, and Ari Kelman. (Alban Institute, 2010)
1. Sacred Purpose
 a pervasive and shared vision infuses all aspects of
the synagogue.
2. Holistic Ethos
 the parts are related to each other and the whole
 ritual, learning, caring, social action, and
community appear in several areas of functioning
 lay and professional leadership function
 boundaries within and around the community are
more porous and fluid
Culture: Visionary Congregations
3. Participatory Culture on All Levels
 congregants, lay leaders, professionals, and
parents engage in the work of the sacred
4. Meaningful Engagement
 achieved through repeated inspirational
experiences that provide genuine meaning to
people's lives
Culture: Visionary Congregations
5. Innovation Disposition
 marked by a search for diversity and alternatives
 a tolerance of failure
 ability to address and overcome resistance to
 a willingness to abandon less function ways of
doing things
6. Reflective Leadership and Governance
 Marked by careful examination of alternatives
 a commitment to overarching purpose
 attention to relationships
 mastery of detail
 planful approach to change
can I
Do I belong?
What do I give?
What do I get?
Engagement is divided by Gallup
into four areas, each building
upon the other, in a hierarchy
of concerns summarized by
four questions.
To cultivate engagement,
remember to work from the
bottom up.
Culture: The Engaged Church
1. I know what is expected of me.
2. My spiritual needs are met.
3. I regularly have the opportunity to do what I do
4. I have received recognition of praise from someone
in the church.
5. Leaders care about me as a person.
6. Someone in the church encourages my spiritual
Culture: The Engaged Church
7. My opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my church makes me feel
my participation is important.
9. Other members are committed to spiritual growth.
10. I have a best friend in my church.
11. In the last six months someone in my church has
talked to me about the progress of my spiritual
12. I have opportunities to learn and grow.
The Urban Abbey
One of the churches that we are studying calls itself an
"urban abbey." They have developed a congregational
"rule of life" that is given to all members, including
newcomers, and the members adopt at varying levels. It
consists of things like reading scripture, daily prayer,
working with the poor. This church was in a state of
decline in a rapidly urbanizing neighborhood and is now
experiencing new life through this vision. Intentional and
practicing congregations have an earnestness about
them and a sense of discipline that applies to their
individual lives as well as to their lives in community.
That, in turn, makes them vital places, attractive to
others seeking meaning in life.
(Diana Butler Bass)
Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church
Led by the Holy Spirit,
the mission of Phinney
Ridge Lutheran Church
is to provide a place to
worship God, to reach
out to the community,
and to grow in the
knowledge of Jesus
Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church
The first word we want you to hear from us at Phinney Ridge Lutheran
Church is WELCOME.
Welcome, in the name of Jesus Christ.
We hope that the welcome that we speak to you is a welcome that looks
and feels to you like a welcome that comes to you from God. Here on the
corner of 75th and Greenwood in North Seattle, it is our hope that
whenever you are with us you will feel and know that God has a special
place and a special love for you. That loving welcome comes in a variety
of ways, many of which are outlined in the various pages of our Website.
Whether at worship, through educational programs, through a gift of
food from our Food Bank, in fellowship, through a concert or
conversation, there is for you an open invitation to you to
participate. Feel welcome to be with us. Your presence here makes our
community richer and fuller.
The Church of the Epiphany is a renewing parish in
downtown Washington. We are an interesting mix
of people. Our parishioners come from all over the
Washington Metro Area. We minister with the
downtown poor, especially through The Welcome
Table worship and breakfast. We minister with the
downtown workers, especially through weekday
worship, concerts, and faith formation activities.
There are four aspects or elements of membership
at Epiphany: prayer, study, ministry, and
 Prayer is both corporate and personal. It is
important for us all to enter fully into the liturgy
of our faith community and to participate in
parish worship at least once a month. It is also
important for us to follow a daily discipline of
personal prayer.
 Study, the practice of continually learning about
the faith, keeps our minds open and feeds our
desire to know more about our relationship with
God. Whether it be through a parish activity or a
study group at work or personal reading at
home, learning is a window to believing.
 Ministry can happen anywhere. Ministry is a way that
we proclaim and share our faith; it is an activity
through which we express and practice our faith. All
baptized Christians are ministers. At Epiphany, every
member is encouraged to participate in at least one
of the parish ministries... New members meet with a
church staff member for a ministry discernment after
they have considered what they feel called to do. The
basic ministry of all Christians is in the world. Parish
ministry is primarily a training ground for ministry in
the world.
 Stewardship is an attitude of faith. We receive
much from God, and we have the opportunity to
respond to God with a spirit of gratitude and
thankfulness. Stewardship is a way of life that
recognizes the fact that God is continually
reaching out to us and that we have a desire to
respond to God in love. We can choose to be
good stewards of all that God has given us: life,
time, energy, talent, and money. The pledge card
is one way to give back to God with a sense of
First Church, Cambridge
First Church, Cambridge
 Since 1636, our community has embraced the
pilgrim and the searcher, reaching for the divine in
our world. We are committed to making a difference
in this world through ministries of justice and
reconciliation in Christ's name. Join us.
 We are an Open and Affirming and a Just Peace
Congregation of the United Church of Christ.
First Church, Cambridge
 From all this learning, a vision emerged, God's
vision for us, ancient and fresh. In May 2003, we
imagined and committed ourselves to a journey of
transformation called "A Way of Hospitality," a
fourfold path encompassing our whole common
 Open Door: Welcome
 Open Door: Spiritual Growth
 Open Door: Mission
 Open Door: Covenant and Communion
Goleta Presbyterian Church
a community of faith seeking to know and
serve Jesus Christ through committed hearts,
open minds and willing hands
 GPC is a place where people of many backgrounds
and ages encounter a God that is alive, personal,
powerful and full of love for all people.
 Our ongoing focus is on Jesus Christ – his teachings,
his life, his forgiveness, his promise of life beyond
death, and his desire to see us loving God and other
people, regardless of their beliefs or convictions
Goleta Presbyterian Church
Welcome to our Goleta Presbyterian Church! If you visit you'll find
people of different ages and perspectives finding a common center
in a living Christ.
 The music you hear will be a blend of traditional hymns, praise
music, jazz, harp and acoustic guitar, and maybe even a young
piano student sharing a piece they learned for their recital.
 The message you hear will relate timeless spiritual truths to the
issues you face everyday in our high-tech, globalizing world.
 The people you meet will welcome you with genuine, easy-going
 We offer excellent programs for kids, teens and adults of all ages.
 We support many different causes in the Goleta and Santa
Barbara communities as well as building homes in Mexico and
helping create cooperative bakeries and solar projects in Ghana.
Goleta Presbyterian Church
Within GPC, people find a meaningful spiritual home
in the contemporary world…
 We develop spiritual practices that keep us
growing in faith, including reading the Bible with
understanding, developing a life of prayer, taking
time for rest and reverence, and serving other
 Families find support within a community in
which the joys and challenges of life are shared
Goleta Presbyterian Church
From GPC, people go out to do God's work, e.g.,
 We are active as citizens in Goleta and Santa
Barbara, bringing a moral perspective to
issues such as education, housing, and health
 We take a leading role in working with other
faith communities and religious traditions on
projects of common concern
 We are involved in the creation of a healthy,
multicultural community
Becoming Gods Church! - A gathered family, becoming the Body of
Christ – The Cornerstone – to serve the community & world.
 We believe God has called us to worship with all our hearts,
souls, and minds. Through our worship together we are called to
reach out for the Gospel through genuine faith and to call all
people to the hope we share in Christ. We find that our worship
defines us as a community.
 In worship we encounter God's grace and are sent forth in
mission to the poor, the oppressed, the lost, the unwanted, the
sick, and the imprisoned.
 We find that this vision sets forth a model of ministry
incorporating all people regardless of age, gender, economic
status, race, or nationality. This inclusive ministry, empowered
by the Holy Spirit, equips and enables the church to do ministry.
Church of the Holy Communion, an Episcopal Church in the center
of Memphis, seeks to be a sacred presence, grounded in the servant
ministry of Jesus, offering spiritual growth opportunities for all.
Whoever you are and wherever you might be in your spiritual
pilgrimage, we welcome you to explore the spiritual life with us
and journey with us as fellow pilgrims. Church of the Holy
Communion is a growing community of people from a variety of
backgrounds – some are life-long Episcopalians, others are very
new to the Episcopal Church, and some are from different
denominations and faith traditions. What they all have in common
is a desire to live a deeper life, and they have all had at least an
intimation of God's presence in some aspect of our life together.
 Some people are particularly drawn to our ancient
worship, which we hope is fresh, embracing and
 Others sense the love of God in our very intentional
care for one another – pastoral care here is not just
the professional responsibility of the clergy but is
something we all take seriously as a community.
 Many of us sense that God is most powerfully
present when we engage with those who are poor
and marginalized, and the result is a communitywide determination to make a difference in the
 Others who call this church "home" are people
who are drawn to our serious educational
offerings – we believe that taking the spiritual life
seriously does not mean disengaging the mind.
 And still others are encountering the Divine in our
various gatherings that promote the contemplative
life in a world that more and more resembles a
roller coaster.
 Church of the Holy Communion is an incubator of
faith for small children, a safe and encouraging
environment for youth in their journey to
adulthood, and an increasingly diverse fellowship
of adults who are being fed, supported and
commissioned by the love of God made known to
us in Jesus. There is a place for you here.
Church of the Apostles, Seattle
Church of the Apostles' "Freedom Riders"
Church of the Apostles, Seattle
 Church of the Apostles is a future church
with an ancient faith... In the story of Jesus,
we have glimpsed God's future and know
that "thiscouldchangeeverything." So our
purpose is to helpgodchangeeverything, by
participating in God's future within today's
culture and our local zip code, living and
serving in intentional, sacramental
community around Jesus Christ.
Church of the Apostles, Seattle
 The future is not something we
manufacture, and community is not
something we can coerce you into, but
both are works of the Spirit to which God
calls you. So as God calls you, we
welcome you to join us in
helpinggodchangeeverything and
exploring God's future among friends.
Church of the Apostles, Seattle
 Church of the Apostles is a new church,
not only in “years in existence,” but in
mindset. We seek to be a real and
authentic community, at home in today's
culture and in our Fremont
neighborhood as ‘artisans of a new
Church of the Apostles, Seattle
 Church of the Apostles is an incarnational,
monastic, Christian community, affiliated
with God, through Jesus Christ, in the
power of the Spirit. we share a spiritual
kinship with all those who affirm the most
ancient Christian confession “Jesus is lord.”
Within the larger Christian village, we are
part of the Anglican and Lutheran tribes.

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