By Richard Chin (AFES)
The systems—or organisational structures—produce their own cultural effect. The key is to understand the purpose of systems and set them up thoughtfully so that they serve God’s plan and strategy.
For example, in Acts 6, the apostles had to organise a “system” to ensure that the daily distribution of food to all the widows was fair, without compromising their time to preach the Word. So they prayerfully appointed seven men to help them. Similarly, Moses prayerfully recruited seventy elders to help him bear the burden of caring for Israel (Numbers 11).
If you find a church that has a welcoming culture, chances are that somebody in that church thoughtfully organised a system to help facilitate that culture. I know one church where teams are organised to meet newcomers at the car park and walk them into the church building, introduce them to members, and ensure they spend at least the first third of their time after the service with them. Small wonder visitors feel welcomed!
What systems are in place to ensure that your ministry is praying for global mission; for those suffering; for unreached people groups? Are there patterns that could be set up in Bible study groups, or whole-church meetings?
Have you thought about ‘systems’ that encourage the proclamation of Christ in your own ministry? Are there courses that could be set up? Are your members being trained in how to share the gospel?
To grow a culture that serves God’s strategy, your system should also include stories, and (s)elebration!
In Joshua 4, Israel is told to gather 12 stones from the Jordan River and set them up as a reminder of what God did to keep his promises. In other words, they were to retell the story of how God kept his promises to get them into the Promised Land.
Memory shapes us, giving us a framework to interpret our present and also to move forward towards our future. As one commentator put it: A community without memory is caught on a cultural and historical island, surrounded by various currents, but lacking the ability to break out of the present and truly approach its future.
Stories helpfully embody a culture and its underlying truths. So do you tell stories regularly that align with God’s strategy? Do people in your church or group hear stories about people coming to Christ? Are there testimonies? Stories of prayer and prayers answered? Is there a culture of asking people how they became Christians? Are there stories to remind those you serve that suffering is the norm for God’s people?
Who can forget Israel celebrating in song after they crossed the Red Sea? (Ex 15). How can we not rejoice (with heaven!) when lost people are found? (Lk 15:1-10)
How do you foster a culture of celebration in your church? How do you celebrate when people turn to Christ? Have you thought of ways to celebrate what’s happening with the gospel throughout the world? Is praising God for his plan and strategy an important part of your ministry?
Culture can eat Strategy for breakfast. But here is a possible tactic to create a culture that serves God’s infallible strategy. Modelling, Articulating, Praying, and Systems that include stories, and (s)elebration.
May a culture aligning with God’s strategy be enjoyed with breakfast, lunch and dinner for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Richard Chin is the National Director of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES). He also serves as a University chaplain at Wollongong University, seeking to proclaim Christ to local and international students. Richard is married to Jeanette, and father to four young adult children. His first wife, Bronwyn went home to be with Jesus in 2013.