The Art of Creating Culture

In his post last Friday, Kevin discussed the typical responses most Christians have when it comes to culture and how each of them falls short in affecting any real change for the sake of the Gospel because as Andy Crouch puts in in his book Culture Making:  Recovering Our Creative Calling

The only way to change culture is to create more of it.

Cultural change only occurs when something new replaces the old and because our lives are fully saturated with culture already, the new culture we create must actually be convincing enough for people to be willing to lay down the old and embrace the new.

Every sphere of life has its own culture.  There is a culture in your workplace for example.  There is also a culture in your neighborhood and in your network of friends.  So when we refer to creating culture we are talking about creating the various elements that make up the different cultures of which you are a member.

What are those elements?

  • Values: What the people in that culture consider to be important.
  • Symbols: The things that represent the people in that culture or inform other people in the culture that they are a member.
  • Stories: The stories people in the culture tell that help them define and reinforce the culture and its values.
  • Heroes: The people in the culture that its other members hold in high regard as champions of that culture’s values.
  • Rites: What a person must go through in order to be accepted into the culture.

When you think about the cultures you are most familiar with what do the elements above tell you about it?

We must become very adept at examining culture in this way because…

The only way to become a culture creator is to be a culture keeper first.

Take music for example.  I have no idea how to play a musical instrument, and my singing skills are mediocre on my best day.  Would it be acceptable for me to fill in for Kevin as worship leader one Sunday?

Of course not!  That would be ridiculous.  How can I possibly do that when I have no understanding of the fundamentals that are required of all creators and performers of music?

I may not understand music, but I do understand business.  Corporate America is my culture and it is there that I can bring a Kingdom ethic, a Kingdom culture.

When I first started in the office where I work, the culture was one of back-biting, gossip and trading insulting jabs.  I spoke with words of kindness and encouragement and refused to take part in company gossip.

Over time, the Kingdom culture of kindness and love, replaced the worldly culture of gossip and bitterness.  So much so, that people have even commented on the difference in the office now.  It has also opened doors for me to share the Gospel with my coworkers on more than one occasion as they seek to understand this difference.

Allow me to offer a few guiding principles and practices as you seek to influence your culture as a creator:

Remember that we are members of Kingdom Culture.

As we learned through Ken’s series on 1 Peter (which you can download here), this world is not our home.  Our lives are to be conformed to the image of Christ and we are to model Kingdom culture, which is a culture of obedience to God for His glory.

Become a culture keeper.

Get to know Kingdom culture through Bible study, prayer, worship, and living in community with other Christians.  You should also be getting to know the culture in which you hope to become a creator of Kingdom culture.

Practice discernment in your culture keeping.

Only Kingdom culture is worth keeping and embracing in full.  ALL earthly cultures contain elements that need to be rejected in light of the fact that our lives are to be models of Kingdom culture.  So be sure to use the grid Tyler gave us in his post (online source) as you examine the cultures you engage.

Pray and act.

Continually ask the Father to reveal to you those areas where you can create Kingdom culture to replace what currently exists and to give you the grace to do so.

Ultimately, the creation of Kingdom culture is really obedience to the Great Commission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 19-20, ESV).

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