Silhouette Andrew Pano

Culture and Structure

Many try and change culture by changing the structure. However, it is my understanding that it needs to be the other way round. A change in culture will provoke a change in structure. I view "culture" as a result and reflection of revelation, transformation, passion and vision. It can be reflected in the small things of life and is unavoidably noticeable. I see "structure" as promoting and implementing the culture. Structure gives accountability and is the road map that takes the culture to a given end. 

So how is this relevant to the church? Let me give you a couple of examples:

The Bible repeatedly shows that parents are responsible for the discipleship of their children. It is the culture of that book with structural outworking. “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:13). Here was a structural outworking of the culture of the nation that families and all generations moved together in love, obedience, and accountability before the Lord. Parents came with their children. The culture of Deuteronomy 6 was lived out. When a church wants to empower parents they often start one small group for that purpose or hold parenting evenings, etc., while the culture of the church continues to disempower them. When a child wants to give their life to Jesus in a children’s small group/ministry, the leader prays with them instead of waiting for the parents to be part of the most important moment in their child’s life. A “small cultural manifestation” with a huge impact. The structure overrode Kingdom culture.

When a culture has been transformed, a parent at a small group meeting might have a testimony, but someone will ask, “Have you told your children? If not – tell them, then come and tell us” (Deuteronomy 29:29). When the culture of the church is invaded by kingdom culture, it will demand a change of structure but that structure will promote the culture.
Using the example of parents and children, if a church really has the culture of revelation, passion, and vision for parents to be the disciplers of their children, then almost automatically the church will put in place structures that will promote and implement that culture. I believe our structures reveal the culture we have taken on board. Too often I am told, “We believe this,” yet the structures cry out a different story. What culture are your structures reflecting?