Cultural Architects

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches February 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

In accomplishing their mission, congregations interact with three cultures. They are our national culture, the congregation’s local culture and the individual culture of each congregation. However congregations also deal with three other cultures in how they are organized to accomplish their mission. The first is the organizational culture itself, the professional culture of the pastor and the leaders and finally the geographical culture related to the location in which the congregation exists.

The organizational culture relates to how people within the congregation interact with each other. One example might be how problems are handled. In a few congregations they are dealt with in an open manner in which the problems are stated and the solutions focus on issues not personalities. In other situations (too often reflecting majority of congregations) problems are dealt with in a passive-aggressive manner. Some congregations function from a guilt perspective while others handle things with a sense of grace. In other cases congregations may have a scarcity mentality in regards to resources while others come from an abundance perspective. Wise pastors, who lead well, know they must understand the culture of the congregation first, before determining how to deal with problems in ways that reflect Biblical behavior while producing unity around the mission and vision.

The professional culture relates to how the pastor views the pastoral role and how the congregation and its leaders view the role of the pastor. The first question that must be determined is for whom does the pastor ultimately work? The right answer to that question is that the pastor works primarily for the chief shepherd not the sheep. However, many congregations do not believe this as demonstrated by the day to day expectations they have for their pastor. Another issue is the pastor’s primary responsibility. Is the primary responsibility to provide care for the sheep or to lead the sheep, even when such leadership requires “tough love”. Another key question relating to the pastor’s role is the growth of the congregation. Is the major criterion of evaluation the spiritual growth of the believers who already are part of the congregation or is the criterion evangelistic growth that generates a growing body of new believers that are now growing spiritually?

The third culture that must be dealt with is the culture of the community and the impact the community’s beliefs and values have on the congregation. Recently I was in a larger congregation in a small isolated community. The congregation had gone into a “bunker” mentality about reaching out since everyone saw the community declining. I pointed out to them that there would be over 5,000 people, just like them, living in the community five years from now. There would also be thousands more who were not like them, still living there in the future as well. Wise pastors help congregations embrace Biblical thinking and the resulting behaviors whether the values and beliefs of the surrounding community support such thinking or oppose it.

Wise pastors that are effective are ultimately cultural architects. They help congregations embrace the mission by first helping them understand the internal cultures. These pastors then lead congregations to leverage the various cultures in which they find themselves to accomplish the mission.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Hearts of Disciples

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches January 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

 

We in GHC (Growing Healthy Churches) believe pastors should know what people give. If the pastor is the Spiritual leader of the congregation, as most congregations I work with would attest, than the pastor needs to be aware of one of the most spiritual acts a believer performs which is how that believer honors and obeys God with their finances. According to Jesus Christ a person reveals their heart and its commitment to Jesus by how the resources God uses to bless an individual or family are handled.

Many pastors use James 2:1-4 as an excuse for not knowing. Such pastors say they do not want to be biased by showing favoritism based upon what a person gives. I find that this excuse does not fit the passage, reflects such a low level of spiritual maturity on the part of pastors that is embarrassing, and it is not consistent with other pastoral judgments and behaviors.

First the passage is talking about providing people status based upon their apparent overall wealth or poverty, not on the amount an individual gives to God. In fact good giving is based not on the amount given but on the percentage given based upon the total resources a person possesses. Jesus honored the widow and her giving, not based upon the amount, but upon the fact that she gave all she had. Therefore, wealthy people who give large amounts that are only a trifle of their income are not good givers. Whereas, people with less resources who give a significant part of their income (which may be much less then gifts given by wealthy people) are, in God’s eyes, good givers. Wise pastors do not look at the amount given alone, but whether the gift reflects true sacrifice or just financial inconvenience.

Second, I find most pastors make judgments about members of their congregations that are legitimate, and do not make God’s gracious blessings of individuals, whether it be money, spiritual gifts, physical appearance, talents, personality, IQ etc. as a basis for giving a person favored status in the congregation. Pastors are looking for disciples who model discipline, faithfulness, dedication, mentoring, reproduction, commitment, responsibility etc. as those things that enable a person to be given the privilege of service (status) in a congregation. If such is true in these areas, why is giving different? It is not. Most pastors I know, if found guilty of discrimination, it is for reverse discrimination to assuage cultural guilt.

All leaders are expected to make judgments about disciples. We are to judge behaviors. If we cannot judge behaviors we cannot honor those who the Bible says to honor and we cannot exercise church discipline. We are to judge words. If we cannot judge words then we cannot distinguish between true and false teaching. We are not to judge motives and we are not to discriminate (a form of judgment) based on status which comes from how God dispenses or does not dispense his grace.

Giving is a behavior that requires discipline and reflects ones growth or lack there of as a disciple. Therefore pastors need to know what people in the congregation give.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]