Recently, I was privileged to receive an advance copy of Dr. Aubrey Malphurs’ latest book Look Before You Lead. Dr. Malphurs, senior professor of leadership and pastoral ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary (www.dts.edu) and president of the Malphurs Group (www.malphursgroup.com), has dedicated his life to helping churches, ministries, and businesses reach their full potential. This latest book addresses a key issue in today’s church: what is your church’s culture and how does it affect how your church reaches its community for Christ?
Dr. Malphurs defines culture this way: a church’s culture is “its unique expression of its shared values and beliefs.” It is crucial that a church’s culture be in line with their target audience. In other words, if a church aims to reach a growing Hispanic population around it, having old-time southern gospel concerts as its main outreach emphasis will not effectively engage the Hispanic community. There is nothing wrong with the concerts; they just don’t reach the intended audience.
Church culture, according to Dr. Malphurs, is best explained like parts of an apple. An apple consists of three main parts: a skin, flesh, and a core. In this first post, let’s look at the skin, which represents a congregation’s outward behavior.
This is the part of a church most easily observed by others. Observations could include what music a church plays, if a church is more liturgical or less liturgical, or if it embraces modern technology or more traditional means of delivery. It is important for a church to examine itself to see just where it stands in these areas and then compares these findings to its overall mission and vision. Do the current activities of the church encourage growth and do newcomers feel welcome? Or is your church’s culture one that emphasizes existing members’ wellbeing, sometimes to the point where visitors feel they are intruding on “family business?”
In my next post, we will look the flesh layer of the cultural apple, a church’s values. And be sure to pick up a copy of Look Before You Lead, available February 15!