Culture and Fresh Expressions

 cul·ture, n. \ˈkəl-chər\ : the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time; a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.; a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

Although many of us can clearly use the word, relate it to our experiences, and define it, Christ-followers often have difficulty determining how to engage with it at the same time we're creating a new kind of culture of outward-thinking within our churches. But that's where, why, and how fresh expressions of church exist-- in the often messy and challenging places  where we connect with people, where they are, to share the good news and reality of Jesus. The word "culture" comes from the Latin cultura, meaning “to cultivate.” Fresh expressions of church start in places cultivated by many things: addictions, age groups, neighborhoods, location, recreation, common interests, etc, but that doesn't mean Christian values and beliefs are compromised. At the same time fresh expressions of church meet on the common ground of the world's culture, church culture is also being cultivated: a change in mentality from filling pews and offering the best programs to seeing ourselves as missionaries who can work together with God where people are. Therefore, culture is both a starting point (connection point) and ending point (transformation point) in the process of beginning fresh expressions of church.  In the words of Jesus: “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless (Matthew 5:13)." In other words, fresh expressions of church bear the saltiness of the gospel to the surrounding culture at the same time they bring new flavor to the culture of the churches from which they arise. Whose culture are you flavoring?

Top Five Fresh Expressions Ideas

Are you in the process of discerning how God might want to use you to start a fresh expression of church in your community? Take a look at these five possibilities that might help you and/or your church begin listening to where the Holy Spirit might be leading:

  1. Free Coffee Friday: Adopt a school, construction site, town management office, library, or other public entity and provide GOOD coffee for their workers. Hang out to serve and make sure you ask a manager for permission-- and get to know him/her too.
  2. Neighborhood Slip-n-Slide: Kids just start school? Why not take advantage of an Indian summer evening or Saturday with a water gun fight or slip-n-slide? Get to know your neighbors and see who God connects.
  3. Carpool: With the start of fall sports, connect with other parents on your child's team by offering to carpool. Who says soccer moms (and dads) should stop meeting up when the season's over?
  4. Go Walking or Jogging: Cooler fall temps while it's still light outside make for a great combination to exercise and form community and listen to where God is at work in people's lives.
  5. Be a Volunteer Gardener: Is there an elderly person, single mom, or disadvantaged family in your neighborhood who could use a helping hand to clear away leaves, cut branches, and get ready for winter? Get a team together (Christians and non-Christians) to lend a helping hand.