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Cancelling Church Culture and Cultivating Community

How long does it take for a culture to be forgotten in today’s age? Let me ask a couple other questions. How long does it take to create a habit? Have you heard of the 21/90 rule?

The 21/90 rule states that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change. … Commit to your goal for 21 days and it will become a habit. Commit to your goal for 90 days and it will become a part of your lifestyle.

Now think about church attendance. For some people it’s been over 180 days since they’ve been to a church building. Maybe they’ve watched your church service online but more than likely they’ve been utilizing the internet and watching other churches too.

Covid has cancelled much that was your church’s culture. So what’s God up to and what’s a church leader to do?

Do you remember the scattering of the early Christians in Acts?

Many churches have cancelled all the work that many ministry service teams did. Maybe you thought you were just postponing it. But many of those teams will not reassemble and many of their members will be gone. Many people who have faithfully served for years have been pushed to the sidelines. People have not only been not attending…. they haven’t been serving either. The culture you had created is gone. Come to the church building… Worship in the church building….Serving in the church building…. Fellowship in the church building…I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s all gone. So how do we go about building a new culture?

Cultivate Community

Christianity is all about relationships. It’s about our relationship with God and our relationships with others- both believers and unbelievers. Our society has moved further and further away from close personal relationships and our conversations have become more and more shallow. There is a great desire for authentic relationships.

Remember the house churches in Acts? For some, that’s what is happening today.

  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20

And it could be happening a lot more- if church leaders would get over themselves and encourage it. I’m not saying we totally give up on the idea of corporate worship. My prayer is that we can return to it in greater numbers than ever. But ask yourself what is God calling us to do right now? Sit and wait. Or gather, glorify Him, grow and go tell others.

The church can’t just revolve around a building and pastor(s) anymore. In fact, I wonder if that was ever God’s plan. Many of the churches I’ve worked with have said they would not define their church as a community based on relationships. Yet many pastors and church leaders are anxiously awaiting the return to “normal.” Why? Perhaps there is something better.

First, cultivating relationships takes time and effort. Getting to know people is not a one and done thing. It takes ongoing connections and conversations. It requires trust, vulnerability, listening and learning. Stretching ourselves to give and receive love. Commitment to one another. Genuine concern, kindness and grace. Cultivating takes seasons of your life and very often years. Who are you investing in? What relationships are you cultivating right now? How are you encouraging others to develop stronger bonds within your faith community?

We’ve had a collection of eleven friends who have gathered at our house weekly for well over three years to study God’s Word and encourage one another in our daily walks. It’s been a tremendous blessing to us and we would so encourage others to join us in doing likewise. This has been our “church community” during the last six months and we are eternally grateful that our group was assembled pre-Covid. None of us are considered the leader. We actually just decide what we’d like to study together and dig in. No one is even responsible for prepping. We dig in when we gather.

But when Covid hit I actually started another group on Thursday nights. This group is made up of anywhere from one to two dozen women from all over the country each week. We gathered via zoom and have joined in community around the Word since March. We’ve prayed for each other and family and friends a lot too. We’re lifting one another up and pointing each other back to Jesus. These communities are “the new normal” for us.

Our Tuesday night small group is working through a study called, “Joining Jesus on His Mission” by Greg Finke.  Greg Finke is an advocate for starting to share Jesus by first just enjoying people.  Maybe God is just wanting us to get back to the basics…our relationship with Him and others.

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