Blowing Leaves of Culture

Blog Post by

Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader
choward@glpby.org


This past weekend I took care of the leaves that had fallen in my yard. I did a wonderful job of raking and bagging. My yard was the cleanest on the block, at least for one day! The problem is my neighbor has a big tree that dumps leaves in his yard and into the street. He hasn’t raked anything so far. So, when the wind blows, all of his leaves end up in my yard! I have come to the conclusion that if I am to win the war on leaves, I must get in rhythm with my neighbor and the timing of his raking.

This incident helped me to better understand the church and culture.

Sometimes we believe that if we just get the right leaders, governance, have the finances and location, our congregations will prosper. But we must always consider the culture in which we live. Our culture influences us, and everyone that comes through our doors. This means the issues that affect our culture, are inside of our churches as well. They cannot be prayed away or theologized out of existence. No matter how much we read our Bibles (and we should read our Bibles!), our culture will also have a great influence on our values, thinking, and beliefs. Culture is like my neighbor’s leaves blowing into my yard. I will never have a clean yard if I only focus on my grass. I must take into consideration which way my neighbor’s leaves are blowing as well.

In the book, Transitional Ministry Today: Successful Strategies for Churches and Pastors, edited by Norman B. Bend Roth, there is a chapter entitled The Changing Landscape of the American Church by Cameron Trimble. Trimble believes the future of the church can be seen through the lens of culture, and how the American culture influences the church. He argues that in order to understand the future of the church, we should look at four forces in our culture and how they influence the church. These forces are resources, technology, demographics, and governance.

We have resources we have inherited from our fore-parents. This includes buildings, but also includes liturgy, denominational systems, seminaries, and finances. There are at least two ways to look at resources. We can believe our role is to conserve and preserve resources as a way of honoring those who gave them, built them, or developed them. This is using resources to focus on our past. Another way to use resources is to believe God is not static, but is also involved in change. We then use our resources to build our future, replacing rigid liturgy and polity with flexible structures that allow creative and innovative ideas to move forward. “The role of transitional ministers must be to rid congregations (and presbyteries) of needless administration, freeing them for permission-giving, innovative ministry.” What does a permission-giving ministry look like in your church? What does it look like in our presbytery?

God is living, present, and in the future. Let us prepare our congregations to join what God is doing in the world, as we become the future church.

Rev. Craig M. Howard

 

3 Responses to “Blowing Leaves of Culture”

  1. Marilyn A Stewart on

    This is soooooo true. Thank you for reminding those who read this. We think we have examined these four cultural points through the ‘New Beginnings’ program. Always having doubt when it comes to starting a new beginning. Have we really interpreted how God wants us to go or are we choosing what seems inevitable?

    Reply
  2. Milton A Robinson on

    I enjoyed your presentation of ideas and I find myself leaning or trending towards the creative that you so mention. God gave us two eyes and he placed them in the front of our bodies to see where we going or what’s coming at . And he allows our faith to tap into his unending power. So yes we are stewards he looks to us to put that which we are watching over, put that to work(outside 4walls)/ utilizing (resources / monetary /time/faith),plant the seeds that’s how we create a harvest ,we do our 10tn and he multiplies. Yielding spiritual Rewards

    Reply

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