Building a Culture / Changing a World

But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity… NY Times Editorial

I love this quote that cultural forces are far more powerful than money in creating communities.  Culture is defined as the “totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.”  It goes beyond the definition to a vibe, feeling, and very nature of a group of people.  It is “who we are” that produces “what we do.”

As someone who is charged with encouraging / building a culture of love, honesty, acceptance, respect, and compassion, I can tell you that it takes time and a great deal of consistency.  What I can also tell you is that when a group finds it’s voice in terms of “who it is”, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Walter Brueggemann suggests that culture is built through liturgy, narrative, and commands.  In other words culture is built based upon shared beliefs, stories, and directives.  As we repeat these ideas over time and in different contexts a funny thing happens:  we become the very things we repeat.

That is why services of worship can be powerful times of creating culture.  As we meet regularly and repeat the traditions of singing, praying, and preaching (among other things) we are formed by the truth that is contained within them.

I read a FaceBook post this week from a Mom who said it was so wonderful to see her young daughters reciting the Lord’s Prayer during worship on Sunday.  It hit my hard that those little girls are being formed in ways that God will use for the rest of their lives.  As they learn the words and see their peers and elders join together with them, they become a part of a community that becomes “home”.  A small, and imperfect at times, version of the “home” they will see when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

As you prepare for services this weekend, I encourage you to pray for God’s forming power to be at work in your place of worship.  May the truth that is sung, read, and shared be a force more powerful than all the money in the world to change our world for the better.

And you just thought you were going to church!