Guard Your Heart (Culture)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

If culture is the heart of an organization then it would reason that Solomon's plea also applies to leaders in regard to the organizations they lead. It's the leaders responsibility to guard the heart of the organization. Can you clearly define the culture you're called to protect?

This is the question I began asking myself. I was a Senior Pastor and I was settled on my WHY - I wanted to reach the unchurched. Our leadership team and I began to make changes to our Sunday morning services to do just that. And it worked, for a season. However, what we noticed was that while we had a lot of new faces each week, we had a very poor retention rate. Something was missing.

As I began to dig for the missing link, I quickly discovered that our culture was a fog in my own mind and therefore was a cloud in the minds of our people. What was more alarming was the fact that culture trumps our vision. Our lack of clarity in values, our heart, our culture, left an unguarded heart that was acting as a counterweight to our vision. Before we could "guard our heart," we needed to know what to protect and it had to align with our WHY.

As someone who is passionate about the Word of God, I went to the Bible first to find scriptures that would summarize simply what was important to us. We settled on four passages and these became our Four Pillars. They became a guide to our tangible and intangible behaviors. (read Is the Culture of Your Church Inviting to Outsiders for a deeper explanation of these behaviors)

  1. Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" It doesn't say God's judgement or even that the fear of God leads to repentance. It says the kindness of God leads people to repentance. This became our guiding scripture to become a grace-based ministry. When in doubt, we would chose to err on the side of grace.
  2. Ephesians 4:11-12, "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ." We took this to mean the organizational flow chart would be flipped upside down - that the staff would seek to serve and equip our people to minister instead of asking them to serve us and our vision.
  3. Mark 16:15-20, "...And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed." We didn't just want to preach the Word, we wanted to show the Word in real and tangible ways. We expected to see real life changed. Real miracles. We didn't want hype and weirdness, but we did desire to see "signs follow."
  4. John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me." It's interesting to me that when Jesus prayed for His followers, He never asked God to keep them theologically correct, or that they would preach the Word with accuracy. His primary concern was that they remain in unity. And through this unity the world would know about Jesus.

Can you clearly define your culture? Which values do you passionately guard?