Recently our church called an associate pastor (our first paid position outside of pastor; part time secretary and part time custodian). I have repeatedly said this will change the culture of our church and have repeatedly stressed, we must change the culture of our church in order to effectively penetrate the community to which we are called. The challenge: After serving as the pastor for 20 years, am I the hindrance to changing the culture or am I the catalyst for changing the culture? It usually takes less than three years for a church to reflect the personality of the pastor (at least that is what Dr. Lawless stressed to me when I was doing my DMin work at Southern Seminary). So, after 20 years, is it possible to change?
Added to this is the occasional visitor in my life: depression. It comes at the most inopportune times, like last week when I had lots of uncommitted time (that is to say, blocks of time I had set aside for prayer and study). Perhaps it was the rain that invited this visitor in, perhaps the general change in the weather. Whatever the cause, I certainly don’t enjoy the visit.
Putting that aside the challenge still remains, how do we go about creating a culture that enables us to effectively engage the world in which we live?
This week I have met with county elected officials, I will meet with city officials today, and then spend an hour or so at the local high school helping host a community volunteer fair (all high school students at our school) are required to serve 25 hours a year in community service. Then, tonight I facilitate a monthly finance team meeting, and lead in prayer and Bible study.
Am I perpetuating a certain culture? Of course I am. Can I more effectively use these meetings and events to strategically make the gospel a reality? Of course I can. The real question: Will I? To change the culture is more than merely wishing change. It requires a clear and compelling vision of the kind of culture we need to be. So, part of my prayer life includes asking God for a clear and compelling vision of how the gospel through my life can change the culture of our church and our community.