I recently made a friendly wager with Sam Luce about the Tigers and the Yankees ALDS baseball series. I won as the Tigers won in five games. I haven’t been a Tigers fan very long, just about six months to be exact. That sounds kind of like I am a bandwagon fan no doubt.
Let me fill you in on something, I moved to the Detroit Michigan area six months ago. I am originally from St. Louis and I love the St. Louis Cardinals. I know I have no obligation to cheer for Detroit teams when I moved here but I did because it is very important to the culture of my church. I am still cheering for a 2006 rematch although then I will be in trouble.
It’s important to understand the culture of where you are serving. Each country, region, state, city, denomination, and church has a different culture. I think even churches in the same city can have different cultures. You can’t always predict people by those you’ve known in the past.
Here’s some culture questions to ask.
1)How do people spend their time?
One of our campuses is more rural and closer to the water. They fish, boat, and hunt. Our campus is more suburban. They do suburbanite stuff.
2)What’s important to them?
My pastors have a passion for planting churches. That means they also have a drive to raise up leaders. That has to be my drive also.
3)What’s been normal?
We just hired a youth pastor and I love the phrase he uses, “defining the new normal”. Often normal for one group of people isn’t normal for another. I think we have to be respectful of what is normal despite our feeling on it.
4)What have been the past failures, shortcomings and challenges?
Learn from someone else’s mistakes. Don’t do the thing that got the last three guys fired.
5)What have been the past victories, triumphs, and solutions?
Some things are working and just need tweaks and not torched to the ground. Just because you didn’t think of it doesn’t make it a bad idea.
6)Who are the political players?
I don’t enjoy playing politics in church but knowing the players can save you a lot of trouble.
A few other things to look at:
Volunteer Culture How strong on volunteers is the church? We have around 80% of people serving somewhere. We also have more men teaching than any other church I’ve ever been at.
Priorities What’s the vision? What is most important thing the church does that makes it stand out? is it going to hurt your feelings if it isn’t your ministry?
Leadership Style My pastors are business people so I’ve had to make changes faster than most experts agree you should. The people I serve are used to it so it has been a very smooth transition.