What kind of culture does your church have?
For many years, the denominational tag told people everything they needed to know before they walked in the door. And not just theologically. Even the style of clothing and music were similar throughout each denomination.
In recent years, many of the denominational barriers have fallen as a primary determiner of church culture. Now we tend to adopt our style and culture from some of the more influential churches in our society.
Brent Colby discusses this phenomenon in his article, Submissive Church Culture and Your Lack of Identity, based on the writing of Thomas Sowell.
According to Colby, many churches have either a dominant or a submissive culture. A dominant church culture not only blazes their own trail and establishes their own identity, but they serve as a template from which other churches – the submissive ones – draw cues.
In short, some churches lead and other churches follow. Not always with good results.
If you're copying another church, you’re not being the church God called you to be. And the kingdom of God is poorer for not having your voice in it.
Your Church Has Its Own Voice
God didn’t call any church to be a lesser version of another church, no matter how wonderful that other church is.
Sure, we can use curriculum, methods and products from other churches. And the still-new trend of churches working together to form multi-campus networks has great potential for renewal, health and growth.
But, while we should help each other and share great ideas, we must be careful not to submit to any other church’s culture to such a degree that we’re no longer being ourselves.
Small churches can be especially susceptible to this submissive tendency. After all, most small church pastors don’t have a lot of time for leadership training, vision-casting or sermon prep, so it’s tempting to lean more heavily on other churches for a lot of that. But that doesn’t mean we should give up our unique identity.
Think of the irony of the following situation. A pastor preaches a message about how each member of his congregation is unique before God. Be who God made you to be. Find your purpose. There’s no one else quite like you. But the pastor didn’t even preach their own message – they downloaded it from another pastor’s website the night before.