Monday, February 18, 2013

Look Before You Lead: How to Discern & Shape Your Church Culture

Dr Aubrey Malphurs has created a significant work on the culture of the church.  Very few have attempted to define the culture much less address the essential impact this has on our functioning within the church. 

Many have approached evangelism by trying to enculturate groups with their particular culture.  That has very little impact in raising the level of Christ-likeness over the long term.  Others have tried to reduce evangelism to simply getting people “converted,” i.e., making a decision for Christ.

The tough work is always to disciple people and that requires changing cultures.  Dr. Malphurs gives us a comprehensive view of culture.  On pages 28-31 he gives us 37 characteristics of culture in the first “layer” of understanding and I’m sure that is not exhaustive, though each one is important. 

In Chapter 4 he gives insights on the second layer, or values.  This section is worthy of spending considerable time in prayerful study in order to discern what a church’s values really are.  After fifty years in ministry, I have yet to encounter a church board who really understood their own personal values, and very little of their church’s values. 

In Chapter 5 he moves on to discuss core beliefs.  Core beliefs, not stated doctrine or theology, determine how we act in real-life situations.  On page 60 he gives ten reasons why beliefs are so important.

One measure of great leadership is the ability to define your current location on the spiritual journey.  If you don’t know where you are or who you are, it’s nearly impossible to plan a strategy to move forward.  Dr. Malphurs gives great insight on discovering a church’s culture and a pastor’s culture; both are essential understanding.

The second half of the book provides the process for shaping the culture.  I love his term for pastor as the “culture sculptor.”  With the large appendix he includes many tools to help accomplish the transformation of culture.  While he has presented much of the academic insights, none of this can be accomplished without the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  We all naturally resist change, but God can energize us to truly fulfill the Great Commission.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Proverbs Indexed

Gus Dallas provides a subject index for the book of Proverbs.  He provides no commentary or additional insight into this great book of wisdom.  In a way, God’s Word speaks for itself and is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it is written without additional comment. 

For someone unfamiliar with the Proverbs, this index might provide a resource to encourage one to seek biblical truth on the various subjects.  If it encourages someone to discover God’s insight on a particular subject and to accept and implement the truth, then his effort to create the index is worthwhile.
I was interested in Gus’s rating system of “good” and “bad” which was really more of an application of truth.  There is no “bad” truth.

However one approaches the scripture, there is value in reading, studying, and applying it.  However, the editing was weak as evidenced by all the typographical errors which creates a distraction to studying.

Since I have read the book of Proverbs at least 100 times, the index is of little value to me.  However, I could easily recommend it to one who was new to the scripture.  For them it would make a handy guide and could encourage additional study.