Thursday, June 25, 2020

A road map to a healthy church culture


One of my favourite authors Scot McKnight has a new book being published later this year that explores creating a "goodness culture" in our church families.

Our first instinct may be to think well that automatically exists in a local church! Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches--from Willow Creek to Mars Hill. We are not immune to this in the UK. In the last couple of weeks, we have read of a well-know leader announce his resignation with trustees citing concerns around an unhealthy church culture and specifically a culture that led to racism.

I am sure that no Jesus follower who hears the call of God and sets off to dedicate their life to serve God by planting or leading a church, expects to arrive at a place where they have to resign and suffer the consequences.

However, it seems to be happening with too much regularity at this moment in time. Our behaviours, beliefs and practices contribute so much to the culture we create. Let's take a time out to ensure we are taking steps towards health rather than a disaster.

Scot gives lists 7 characteristics he has noted in unhealthy church culture and 7 that help create a healthy culture.

(Below are my paraphrase of what I heard on a webinar and not exactly what was said)

Characteristics of a toxic culture
  1. Narcissism is allowed.
  2. Fear is common.
  3. Care for the institution can trump the care of people.
  4. False narratives are formed (e.g. to protect the institution)
  5. There is a large emphasis on loyalty.
  6. Celebrities and hero leaders are common.
  7. A greater emphasis on leadership than pastoring.
Characteristics of a healthy culture
  1. A high degree of empathy for others.
  2. Shaped by grace and nurtures grace.
  3. People are put first.
  4. The truth is told even when it's hard. (no spin)
  5. Justice is nurtured (do the right thing even when it hurts)
  6. A culture of service is built (particularly in leadership)
  7. Christlikeness is developed and valued (Christoformity)
An extract from Scot's book - A Church called Tov

Toxic, flesh- driven cultures breed a lust for power, success,
celebrity, control through fear, an emphasis on authority, and
demands for loyalty. These values may not be explicitly stated,
or even outwardly recognized, but as they fester in the heart of a leader, they can’t help but bear bitter fruit, damaging the culture of the church and seeking to destroy anyone who gets in the way.

A Spirit- formed, Christlike culture, on the other hand, nurtures truth, offers healing for the wounded, seeks opportunities to
show redemptive grace and love, focuses on serving others (rather than on being served) and looks for ways to establish justice in the daily paths of life. A Christlike church culture always has its eyes on people because the mission of the church is all about God’s redemptive love for people.

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