Steve Timmis on Changing Church Culture

3773_medium_imgWritten by Jon Akin

I sat down recently with Steve Timmis and asked him how to move a traditional church towards biblical community. Here are some helpful insights from him on leading in a revitalization effort, but I think they are applicable to culture making in a church plant as well.

Timmis argues that culture triumphs over strategy. So, a revitalizing leader needs to be a culture creator before a strategist. Here are 5 ways to create a culture of gospel, community and mission in your church:

1.     Preach it & Teach it

Preach and teach methodically and deliberately through the Bible from a gospel, community, & mission framework. The Bible is a coherent narrative about God redeeming a people (a community) for Himself, so we should teach and preach every passage within that framework. Your people should get gospel, community, & mission week-by-week.

2.     Sing it & Pray it

Timmis referenced Jonathan Edwards who said that we sing to excite the affections, and Timmis says we should pray to do the same. He says, “We pray and ask God to enable US to be who WE want to be and impact the world.” Sing songs and pray prayers that show this is what it means to be the people of God. For example, in singing we are called to admonish one another with songs (Col 3:16), so one practical way to do this is to replace the singular pronouns with plural ones. Sing what you mean!

3.     Model it & Mentor it 

As a leader, you must live this message out (gospel-centered life in community with others). Do what you are talking about. Be there for others. Open your home and time to others. You must also identify guys to intentionally take under your wing and develop in these things. Spend time with them and help them work through it.

4.     Structure it & Resource it 

You need to build out structures that reflect your convictions: gospel, community, & mission. Make sure the structures you have in place give the expressions you value. Then, put your money where your mouth/heart is. If gospel, community, and mission are your highest values, then spend the majority of your resources there instead of other places (the worship event, programming, etc.).

5.     Repeat it 

Keep on doing it. Especially in a revitalization effort, take the long view, don’t try to change things too quickly, and be patient.