When we search for the right words to describe church culture, we often find ourselves struggling to fully encapsulate the full definition of the concept. "Community," "fellowship," and "connection" may all spring to mind, but they fall short of capturing the full meaning.
Church culture, while often difficult to define, is a vital part of any congregation. When people gather together in a place of worship to share spiritual and human experiences alike, we nurture both our minds and spirits in a very unique and special way. The influence of church in our life and lifestyles can shape how we interact both in and outside of the context of our weekly service.
The culture of a church is built from many factors, both from within the organization and from the community that members interact with on a daily basis. A congregation's behaviors, values, and beliefs all play pivotal roles in shaping a healthy, thriving church culture. What's more, traditions from outside of the belief system like food, celebration, and music can all make meaningful contributions. Church culture will vary from one faith to another, and even between congregations, but these differences can all help to create rich and unique communities of worship.
At the end of the day, a thriving church culture is one where all members feel valued within the community at their place of worship. Exchange and growth of fellowship are welcomed and encouraged, leading to closer bonds and a more fulfilling sense of belonging. It is important for both leaders and members within a congregation to be able to identify and facilitate culture and culture-building opportunities. In this post, we will explore several tops that can help you to better understand and build the various facets of church culture. That is why the Congregational Resource Guide offers some resources to help congregations learn more about congregation culture and what they must do to promote a healthy culture within their own.
Church Culture Today
From youth groups to worship music, there are many ways faith communities have evolved to welcome new members as the times change. Although church culture definition may be changing, many congregation leaders find it crucial to keep track of their faith's mission and purpose. In a world of swipes and clickbait, continuing to pursue deeper connection can be a challenge for building church culture today.
It's important to strike a balance between using modern tools to reach a wider audience with your message, and remembering to take a step back to grow in your faith. Social media can be a very useful tool to keep your congregation connected outside of services. Facebook groups are an excellent option for many types of church cultures, and provide an opportunity for members to share ideas and events. As such, some congregations may encourage members to use technology to organize in-person meetups and spiritually-based events, such as study or meditation groups. This could allow a community to live out their faith online as well as in-person, as an environment where people have the relative anonymity of the internet can encourage toxicity.
Church culture meaning can shift through the years, but staying grounded in a foundation of fellowship and faith will help it flourish. You can find resources to help cultivate congregation culture on the CRG.
Church Culture Examples
Communities built in faith often draw members from a variety of backgrounds. People of different classes, races, and lived experiences can all meet and share in fellowship under the banner of your faith. Everyone brings facets of their own story to their faith community, but how does culture influence the church?
In some cases, diverse backgrounds can come with certain challenges. Faith leaders must work to overcome the potential obstacle of friction between members who have different cultural or political stances. In these situations, it is important to address the divide and bring members together over common ground. Everyone has come to worship, and everyone has come to live their faith to the best of their abilities. Regardless of differences, members have fellowship over beliefs in common, which is where congregation culture can come into play in assisting.
More positive church culture examples can be found in music, food, and exchange. Many places of worship include a fellowship hall or post-service gathering place where members may share a meal together. For example, some invite members to take turns preparing this meal or providing worship music can help create an inclusive, diverse, and unique environment. A rich church culture can help everyone feel included, and inviting people to bring their own cultures to the table will help it flourish.
To learn more about how to quell political differences between members, be sure to consult some sources on the CRG website.
Toxic Church Culture
Sometimes, your congregation culture can develop in unhealthy ways. A toxic church culture can make for an unwelcoming environment, or worse yet, one that brings members further from their spiritual goals and fulfillment. There are usually some key signs that a congregation may be suffering from toxic culture; fortunately, the CRG may have some tools to help and work to find solutions with congregation members to correct this as it arises.
It can be difficult to figure out how to handle toxic church members. Oftentimes, these members are unaware of their negative contributions to the church culture as a whole. The first step to improving a toxic church culture is recognizing the signs of a dysfunctional church. Once you're aware of this, it's easier to confront the issue at hand. If you are a faith leader, bring up points in your religious teachings that guide members away from possible toxic traits. You might also wish to speak with other faith leaders to help confirm the signs your church is unhealthy.
Remember that everyone attending a place of worship, even toxic members, ultimately wants to grow spiritually. It is important to address problems with kindness, humility, and understanding for the situations others may be experiencing.
Whatever steps you choose to take, you may wish for some resources to help you get a productive conversation started. The resources found on the CRG website may help.
The Effect Of Church On Culture
Communities of worship can also greatly influence the wider culture around them. Towns, groups, and subcultures are often shaped by the cultural influence of church. Examples of this can include faith groups hosting community events, conducting outreach programs, and generally influencing the way members take part in the greater community as a whole.
One of the most wonderful places where we can observe the effect of church on culture is through connecting with others. Some cultural influence of church examples include the idea that some congregation leaders may choose to promote a servant spirit in the congregation, and encourage members to engage with one another through volunteer programs that can serve as a ministry to your community. The effect of church on culture may seem more pronounced when members of the faith reach out to others beyond the walls of their place of worship.It is vital that both paid and volunteer faith leaders live their spirituality in their everyday lives. Lead through example by bringing the principles of your practice into your interactions with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. When we practice a church culture of charity and kindness, our communities and spirits can flourish. The outward effects of inner goodness will shape a positive community impression of your congregation.
For more ideas on how to unite church and culture, you might find some valuable guidance on the CRG website.
How To Change A Church Culture
Fostering a healthy culture can be one of the most powerful spiritual tools for creating a positive impact in people's lives, but cultural issues in the church can make this difficult. Many may struggle with how to change a church culture, an understandably difficult task: A positive culture doesn't just "happen," but is rather something that needs to be shaped, cultivated, and maintained. It's important to respect organizational culture in churches while approaching this task as well.
One helpful tip is to communicate openly and honestly with other members of your congregation. Approach others with respect to their individual experiences and spiritual journeys, always be willing to listen, and keep an open mind. Be clear about your own expectations! Avoid using accusations and dirty tactics, and be ready to call these behaviors out when you see them in others.
Another valuable strategy is to encourage integrity in leadership. As leaders play a significant role in the well-being of their congregation, it is important that they are not motivated by things such as a desire for approval from others or for personal gain. Through their lives and actions, they must endeavor to create a welcoming environment, one where members feel free to express themselves and ask questions.
For more guidance, you could consult the CRG for resources.
How To Identify Church Culture
A church's culture can be most easily defined as the specific community and the expressions of faith found amongst its congregation: One needs to look no further than the people in the congregation itself when wondering how to identify church culture. Simply speak to other members to determine their values and behaviors.
Signs of a healthy church culture include openness, equality, honesty, and a focus on mutual respect and inclusion. A healthy church culture will be made up of people who share similar ideals and goals, while not being fully homogeneous in terms of backgrounds and lifestyles.
It's recommended that you attend services at a new place of worship to get the best idea of their culture. It's important to keep an open mind while assessing church culture. While they may have different ways of doing things, you may find that the spirit and motivations behind their practices will fall in line with your own. You might also take note of how the services are performed, how the leaders of the congregation interact with their members. A healthy church culture will welcome new members with enthusiasm and open arms.
If you are not sure to begin with establishing a distinct culture within your congregation, be sure to consult the CRG today.