How's Your Church's Culture?


David Cannistraci

Many kinds of church culture are celebrated today. Model churches tout their specific approach to music, decor, organizational style and doctrine. Problem is, there can be no “one size fits all” approach to church culture.  What “they” are doing may not be fitting or even possible for “us.”

So then where should a local church’s culture come from?  The pattern of the Father sending the Son into the world.  When Jesus said…

“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21), He was affirming two vital truths:

  • The ministry of Jesus Christ continues on the earth through us - the church.  
  • We are being sent “as” (GK kathos) - “in the same manner” that the Father sent Jesus.  

The Father sending the Son should drive our ministry culture.  So how did the Father send the Son?

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:14, 16-17 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ was grace and truth on a mission.

We carry on with the ministry of Christ by moving in His mission, filled with grace and truth.

1.  Cultivate a Culture of Grace

People are drawn to grace, acceptance and a sense of being valued.

An atmosphere of grace was evident whenever Jesus was with people. Unlike the religious culture of His day, He refused to condemn.  His message to the woman caught in adultery was not “You sinner!” but, “I do not condemn you. Now go and sin no more” (John 8:11). 

His culture of grace and acceptance was magnetic.  Sinners avoided the Pharisees, but yearned to be around Jesus because He loved them.

We need more grace in our church cultures!

Three “Culture of Grace” Extinguishers

  • Condemnation.  How is failure handled in your church? It’s unattractive when churches come across as judgmental and “holier-than-thou.” 
  • Religiosity says, “Measure up! Keep our rules and we’ll we accept you.”  A culture of grace has a completely different feel that says, “We love you as God loves you.  Come discover something better.”
  • Intolerance.  Christians should be kind and loving, not harsh and disapproving.

Ministry in a multicultural world must be saturated with unstoppable kindness. 

This is one reason we have not made political parties a part of our culture.  We are not a Tea Party church or progressive church…we are a Jesus Church.  We are trying to reach all people: homosexuals, broken families, young people etc.  We are careful about creating a culture of grace.

2.  Cultivate a Culture of Truth

Being grace-filled does not imply a reluctance to speak truth or challenge sin.  In fact, we must challenge the sins and idols that rob people of true life.  Love compels us to speak the truth so people can flourish.  

Most our our churches are strong in the word, strong in truth.  We are a strong truth and doctrine movement, and we all know that is such a blessing.  

Don’t compromise truth in order to reach a culture.


Like Christ, we can teach the law and all the commands of God from a place of love, not legalism. Just as a loving father’s rules instruct and protect his children, God’s standards point the way to a flourishing life.  

  • One of the tools we created to help embed this into our church culture is our INSPIRED LIFE SERIES which MFI members are all receiving.  It is a manifesto of the Christian’s call to be a disciple.  If you want the sermons, please email me and I’ll send you what I have.

3.  Cultivate a Culture of Movement


The context of the glory of Jesus “full of grace and truth” is God’s movement toward man.  God had a mission.  He sent Christ who became flesh. Grace and truth came as the movement of heaven to redeem mankind.  Our ministry culture must reflect a similar sense mission and movement.

 Missio Dei - God is on a mission to seek, save and redeem. 

This mission controlled the life and message of Jesus.  The same Missio Dei must continue in the church, bringing forth a passion for evangelism, outreach, missions, church planting and reaching lost people which drives us at every level. 

One of the best ways to begin creating a culture of movement is to make a deep and wide review of mission and purpose. 

  • What is our God-given strategy for reaching unreached people?
  • Do we have an updated vision, mission and values document?
  • Does everyone clearly understand what our church is all about? 
  • Does our church culture help or hinder our mission and vision?
  • Are we prepared to sacrifice preferences in favor of our mission and vision?

It can be very helpful to have a facilitator help draw out your church’s unique vision

Then, believe God for the people and culture to become missional.  

Never stop leading people into a mission to reach out.

The right church culture is never copied or franchised.  It must be conceived and become flesh through the passion of God for a specific community. It may involve methods but it can only flow from the source of all life in the church: Jesus Himself, filling us through the Holy Spirit with His grace, truth and mission.