How to Get Along with Your Church: Creating Cultural Capital for Doing Ministry

by George B. Thompson. Wipf and Stock, 2013.

Applying principles from the field of cultural anthropology, George Thompson argues that the success of a pastor’s ministry in and with a local congregation may largely be determined by how sensitive (and sensible) he or she is to that church’s culture. Pastors need to take the time and make the effort to understand how and why their congregations function as they do. This is especially important for pastors in a new call or appointment. Until they have built up sufficient “cultural capital” and been “adopted” (fully received and accepted) by the congregation, their efforts as pastor-leader will be tenuous, at best. That same cultural capital can be very helpful to the pastor and congregation in times of difficult issues, when there is bad news to be delivered, and when there is genuine conflict. The book offers lots of sound, concrete advice and should be required reading for new pastors coming out of seminary. It would also be a helpful review and reminder to any pastor preparing to begin ministry in a new setting.