Equippers as Environmentalists: Re-Imagining Leadership in Today’s Western Church Part II
If you haven’t read the introduction, I would encourage you to do that first and then continue to read this entry.
Culture is a difficult word to understand, but if we are going to faithfully engage in God’s mission, we must grow in our understanding of it. We also must develop skills in how to analyze, cultivate, and shape culture. For we make culture and culture, in turn, makes us.
We talk about pop culture, high culture, and folk culture. There is Asian culture, Black culture and organizational culture. But what does the word really mean? The word ‘culture’ is Middle French and comes from the Latin cultura which borrows from the Latin word colere meaning to till, cultivate, or tend (Bennett 2005:64,65). Thus you have horti-culture, the science and art of cultivating plants, and agri-culture, the science and art of cultivating land and livestock.
Andy Crouch in Culture Making talks about how creation and cultivation are the two elements required to make culture, and that “God’s first and best gift to humanity is culture, the realm in which human beings themselves will be the cultivators and creators, ultimately contributing to the cosmic purposes of the Cultivator and Creator of the natural world” (Crouch 2008:110).
William Romanowski defines culture as “the collection of ideals, beliefs and values, ideas and knowledge, attitudes, and assumptions about life that is woven together over time and is widely shared among a people” (Romanowski 2001:306). Philip Kenneson, in Life on the Vine, while conceding that there are numerous strengths and weaknesses to varying definitions, says, “culture are distinguished from one another by those shared practices, convictions, institutions, and narratives that order and give shape to the lives of a particular group of people” (Kenneson 1999:21). And finally, Schein, the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership defines organizational culture as “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaption and internal integration, that worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems” (Schein 2004:17).
When Schein consults with an organization to analyze its culture, he moves through three different layers . He starts with the top layer – the artifacts – those elements of culture that are easy to observe but hard to interpret. Next, he examines the espoused values of the organization, those stated ideals that the group aspires to, but may not yet cohere with the group’s basic underlying assumptions. These tacit assumptions are the heart of a group’s culture. They represent the third layer – the roots. They are the guiding beliefs or theories-in-use by which the group operates and the key to understanding any culture.
In the next post I will introduce the idea of Equippers as Environmentalist and how to engage in bilingual theological reflection in light of our definitions of culture.