In ONMB Blog

Reflections: Chapter 1, “Every Church is a Culture”

If we don’t talk about church culture, we can be blind to its power. Chapter one provides an
excellent overview of the power of culture and highlights the reciprocal nature of culture.

Culture affects everyone and everyone affects culture. In church-land, (1) church leaders play a
preliminary role in forming and telling narratives, teaching, and articulating policies, (2)
congregations, individually and collectively, reshape and act out those narratives, reteaching
each other, and re-articulating policy, and (3) the culture itself is an agent in the process. There’s
a mutual forming and shaping that ideally grows a culture of love, compassion, and goodness
(tov) rather than toxicity and dysfunction. The image of a healthy marriage which grows a
culture of love, concern, and commitment versus an unhealthy marriage which grows a culture
of tension, criticism, avoidance, poor communication, and passive-aggressive behaviour is
especially clarifying.

The reminder that culture shapes how we behave is helpful too. Culture helps us behave
ourselves into new ways of thinking, rather than the other way around, just like how habits form
an individual’s personality.

May I, as Christ’s servant, be deeply aware of my character and how it plays a role in forming,
preserving, and undergirding the culture at Scott Street. May we, as servants in the ONMB
church hear the call to create a Spirit-form, Christlike culture that:

“… nurtures truth, offers healing for the wounded, seeks opportunities to show
redemptive grace and love, focuses on serving others (rather than being served), and
looks for ways to establish justice in the daily paths of life.” (p. 23)

Reflection from Jordan Duerrstein, Associate Pastor with Scott Street MB


It’s so true that, “there is no un-encultured person anywhere in the world” (p14). Also, that culture is formed in the long-term interplay between leaders and followers which gives birth to this third invisible but powerful force that then directs and contains the future. While reading, I thought about some of the negative cultural characteristics I’m familiar with from my church experience. Words like superficial, technical/mechanical, quantitative, consumeristic, and tribal all (sadly) came to mind. A downer I know. In terms of what comes next, I’m encouraged by the quote from David Brooks emphasizing the power of small steps:

“Every action you take, every thought you have, changes you, even if just a little, making you a little more elevated or a little bit more degraded” (p.17). Here’s to the slow and steady work of cultural repentance!

Reflection from Trevor Seath, Director with C2C Collective
Trevor is credentialed with ONMB and serves as a key partner with ONMB Missional Expressions

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