More about Culture

  • Jesus and His Kingdom is the Better Story Our World Needs Today

    Evangelism might be the most discussed, most intimidating, and least discussed practice in the American church. As our church just finished our sermon series through the Sermon on the Mount, I’ve been amazed by how Jesus evangelized through his message and his life.

  • 3 Driving Factors in Creating Culture in Your Church

    Chick-fil-A is a favorite fast food restaurant chain in the Southeast. When you get something to eat there you are likely to hear a cheerful "My Pleasure" from any employee.

  • Creature of the Word

    The Reformers viewed the gospel as not merely one thing among many in the life of a church but rather the means by which the church exists. When the gospel is rightly declared and applied to God's people, the church becomes "a creature of the Word.

  • 4 Questions to Check Your Church Culture

    There’s only so much you can learn about a church from their website. Sure, you can check the church’s doctrinal statement to find out what the people believe.

  • Is Your Children’s Ministry More Than Fun?

    One of the hidden treasures that the "Prince of Preachers," Charles Spurgeon, left the church was a little book titled Come Ye Children. In it, Spurgeon contended earnestly that one of the most important tasks given to a parent, teacher, or minister is teaching kids the gospel.

  • Preaching with Non-Believers in Mind: Learning from Andy Stanley and Tim Keller

    Earlier this year, I read Andy Stanley’s Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend and Tim Keller’s Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City  back to back. An odd combination, I know.

  • Small is Good: Communicating the Kingdom of God

    The most dominant theme in the teaching of Jesus isn’t about hell, money, or even righteousness. It’s about the kingdom of God.

  • 7 Kinds of Stories Every Church Leader Should Master

    All ministry is communication intensive. It follows that story-telling and understanding the nuances of story will help any leader in the daily ebb and flow of communication.

  • Learning to Listen to the Whole Counsel of God

    What does Jesus want to say to the church in the West? To the church in North America? To the church in the South, or in New England, or in the Midwest? What does Jesus want to say to your church? That all depends: what is your church like? Where are you strong? Where are you weak? We live in a big country with hundreds of thousands of churches. If you think the issue out there is too much law, you’d be right.

  • Mark Defining Moments in Your Ministry with Celebration and Anticipation

    There’s a tension that exists whenever God has moved greatly in the life of a person or church. It’s the tension between looking back and looking forward.

  • Conscious Culture

    The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of the basic foundation principles of Church Unique is the assertion that each church has a unique culture.

  • Changing Culture in Your Church, Part 2: 4 Phases, Not 4 Steps

    Executives, leadership teams and entire organizations need more mature minds to deal with the increased complexity, uncertainty and inter-connectedness of our world. CCL's approach to changing culture is focused on growing bigger minds and fostering the thinking that allows for creative action in the face of complexity.

  • Better Worship Requires Better Theology: How to Increase Joy, Fidelity, and Intensity in Worship

    “How do I help people engage in worship?” I know of few church leaders for whom this isn’t a concern on some level. Whether we’re small group leaders, playing in the praise band or the senior leaders, we all want to see the men and women in our churches increasingly engaged in worship (in every sense of the word).

  • Conquered by the Text: Make Sure God’s Voice is Heard

    I don't know how many times it's happened. I pick a text as the basis for a sermon.

  • Know Your Culture, Connect to Your Culture: Lecrae Raps the Gospel in One Minute

    The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of Auxano's primary assertions is that each church has a unique culture.

  • Beware: The Bible is About to Threaten Your Smartphone Focus

    Are apps a threat to God-focus? Yes. But it works both ways.

  • When the Light Comes On: Creatively Using the Power of Story for Your Church’s Worship

    Stories move us. They engage us.

  • Don’t Bury the Lead; Preach the Gospel

    There is an old adage in journalism that tells writers, “don’t bury the lead. ” This refers to placing the most important and attention grabbing elements of a story in the body of an article instead of at the beginning where they belong.

  • Ministry Branding and Culture: Two Sides of the Same Coin

    Your church's culture is the combined effect of the interacting thoughts, values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions that define the life of your church. At the same time, your church probably pumps out communications all day long but misses the opportunity to constantly reflect and reinforce its vision.

  • 5 Cs That Help Shape a Missional Culture in Your Ministry

    Changing the culture in any ministry is difficult work. How do you help shape a missional culture in your ministry?  How are you creating an environment in which mature Jesus-followers "live in the world without being of the world, for the sake of their neighborhood?" Here are 5 C's to help put it a little more within reach.

  • How to Preach the Gospel from Every Part of the Bible

    I love it when I hear students and pastors ask how our sermons can be more gospel-shaped in the regular course of preaching — even sermons from narrative or hortatory passages, for example. I love it because it shows their interest to do what every preacher of God’s Word ought to strive to do, and I love it because it forces me again to think through the question myself and determine how I can more faithfully minister God’s Word.

  • 10 Commandments for Creating a Culture of Mission in Your Church

    1. Thou shalt have a clear statement of mission and no agenda above that mission 2.

  • A Brief Review of Les Miserables

    Ever since the trailer for the new Les Misérables movie made the rounds online, I’ve been highly anticipating this film. Last weekend, Corina and I went to see it.

  • Don’t Put Jesus First This Year

    I have one piece of advice for you as we start out this New Year: Don’t put Jesus first this year. Yes, you read that correctly.

  • 4 Stellar Declarations of a Gospel-Centered Church

    I recently heard Tim Keller speak on his new book Center Church (more on this in the blog later). The image above is his outline on gospel theology which is about one-eighth of the book.

  • 5 Gospel Truths from Jesus’ Geneaology

    1. The gospel is not good advice, it is good news.

  • The Theology of Christmas Songs in Your Church

    It’s quite possible that non-Christians hear more Christian theology around Christmas-time than any other time of the year. A number of Christmas songs are filled with rich theological truths.

  • Protecting a Gospel-Centered Culture in Your Church

    One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about leadership in the local church has to do with creating, cultivating, and contending for a gospel-centered culture in the church. This past weekend, I led a discussion in our “Introduction to Grace” membership class on this very thing.

  • The Science of Storytelling

    In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich used a lot of his free time for playing cards. One of the problems he had was that he greatly enjoyed eating a snack, whilst still keeping one hand free for the cards.

  • Culture Trumps Everything

    Martin Luther referred to the gospel as “this article. ” He said, “Most necessary is that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.

  • The Gospel and Community

    A lot of time is spent discussing of the mission and purpose of the church in the world. What should it look like? What makes it unique? Does it still matter? The answers are incredibly varied and nuanced, but usually they tend to focus on a couple of elements: doctrine and practice.

  • Creating Jesus-Centered Culture

    Part Two of The Creature of the Word focuses heavily on the mechanics of fostering a Jesus-centered culture within your church. The authors remind us that, first and foremost, if we want to build a culture like this, it must be founded upon the clear teaching of the Word of God.

  • The Gospel-Centered Leader

    Arguably the greatest challenge the authors make in The Creature of the Word - even more than their cultural critique - is the one they level at leaders. “Culture and ethos is a reflection of leadership.

  • 3 Questions to Ask of Your Sermon

    There has been a lot of talk in recent years about making the gospel announcement of Jesus Christ front and center in our preaching and teaching. As our society becomes increasingly post-Christian, it is critical for us to not assume lost people know who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us.

  • God as the Communicator

    It was a stretch you might say. A 19th century British preacher apprehended a 3,000-year-old psalm for peace and courage in the midst of dire circumstances.

  • 5 Elements of Powerful Stories

    Here are five elements that you will help you tell more powerful stories: Powerful stories resonate within us. A good story connects in your soul.

  • Why Changing Your Church’s Culture Rarely Works Out

    The Boston Globe recently ran a front-page story in their "Ideas" section on organizational culture, inspired by some depressing events involving the Boston University hockey team. It was much more impactful than the average writing about culture, and raised the important question: Why do conversations about an important topic like culture typically go nowhere, leading companies to waste time and money with "cultural change efforts" which very seldom work? Here is the problem: First, virtually no one clearly defines what they mean by "culture," and when they do they usually get it wrong.

  • Gospel, Culture, and Mission: An Interview with Tim Keller

    Tim Keller’s new book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City may be the most important book he has written. It’s the size of a textbook because of how expansive its vision is.

  • Cultural & Religious Cheat Sheet

    For the past week, I've blogged quite a bit on statistics and their use. I've discussed the misuse of stats, how to discern which stats are good and which are not, and even presented some new research on pastors' views of the election and the use of stats.

  • The Church as Creature of the Word, Part 4

    Session 3 – Matt Chandler God saves people, and it’s not always the same circumstances around conversion. The beauty of conversion is to see people saved in Sunday School or saved out of a strip club.

  • The Church as Creature of the Word, Part 3

    How do we practically get consumer driven churches to shift their “culture” to experience transformation and to become a Creature of the Word? Part 3 of this series, The Church as Creature of the Word, continues with a discussion among authors Eric Geiger, Matt Chandler, and Josh Patterson. Josh: Truth be told, our church has a lot of consumers too.

  • The Church as the Creature of the Word, Part 1

    Part 1 of a 4-part series. A couple weeks ago, I reviewed the book Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger.

  • The Church as Creature of the Word, Part 2

    Part 2 of a conversation with authors Eric Geiger, Matt Chandler, and Josh Patterson about their recent book, The Church as Creature of the Word. This post is features Eric Geiger, vice-president of the Church Resources Division at LifeWay.

  • What Your Church Can Learn from the Failed Strategies of the 2012 Presidential Election

    It’s a tricky thing to engage in political analysis before the dust has fully settled on a recent election. No doubt pollsters, pundits, and politicians from both sides of the aisle will be examining the 2012 election in the coming weeks and months.

  • 7 Reasons Storytelling is Important for Branded Content

    Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440. The first radio transmissions were in the early 1900s.

  • Limit Your Limitations – 3 Essentials for Creating a Movement

    In this fourth post on Take Seth Godin to Church I want to focus on Tribal Movement. Consider using the questions in these posts for staff or volunteer meetings in the month of December.

  • How Your Location Impacts Your Biblical Interpretation

    You may be surprised to discover just how much your culture determines what you see in the Scriptures. During my years in Romania, I found myself challenged by the insights Romanian pastors drew from the text.

  • The 3 R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture War

    I know, I know—you really don’t like the term “culture war. ” The mission of the church is not to “reclaim” America.

  • The True Heart of the Father

    There is a magical thing that happens in homes all over the world. When you have a child, you want your child to crawl, and then you want your kid to walk.

  • 10 Elements of a Great Company Culture

    Building a company culture of engaged employees takes years and requires consistent execution.   I boiled down our culture strategy into 10 essential components I call the "10 Cs of Culture.

  • The 22 Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar

    On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years. It's some sage stuff, although there's nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts.

Recent Comments
I love Ed's writings and heart. I am frustrated by these articles, however. Much of the missiological basis of the Church Growth Movement are not mentioned, and the origination of the formulas are not substantiated. Also, the Movement via Wagner, started mentioning the importance of health over 3o years ago. I wish these articles were better researched and less sweeping in their generalizations. Things like E1, E2, E3 evangelism, group multiplication, relational networks, faith, health, and the care to measure the right things are largely missing here. Perhaps Ed has earned the right to generalize, but I still was disappointed. But keep researching Ed! Ed and Thom have continued on in the spirit of the movement by doing quality research, and for that I am deeply grateful.
— Gary Westra
This discussion will continue, for sure. I am tasked with the online worship ministry do our church at FBC Trussville and it is proving to be an important piece of the overall ministry. As in most things In life and technology, balance is in order. Many of our older adults prefer the "live" service online rather than a week or even day-later DVD or downloaded service. They tell me it is important for them to be a part while the service occurs. This is key because if a person simply wanted the message or music or to see the pastor because they "like" him, then it would not need to be live. There is a sense with our people that they need to experience the worship with their church family in real time. Theologically, folks will have issues. This is a disruptive technology for church. But I would hope that before we toss it all away we would approach it with wisdom and humility. Personally, I would like to see the Church grow through small, cost-effective ways like this and not just brick-and-mortar.
— Robby
It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.
— Shay Wallace

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