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Are You Keeping Track of Your Church’s Culture?

This week the blog is sponsored by The Gospel Coalition. You’re Not Crazy is a practical guide designed to help weary leaders renew their love for ministry by equipping them to build a gospel-centered culture into every aspect of their churches. They remind us that while we’re quick to assert what the gospel says, we’re often too slow to admit what the gospel should do for our churches: reflect Christ’s beauty through a godly, grace-filled culture. Visit the TGC store to purchase this encouraging guide that will help church leaders like you to build a culture of honesty, honor, Christ-filled preaching, and gentle leadership in your church.

Like many people, I use an app to keep track of my health. I make notes of my sleep quality, weight, exercise, and (if I’m really being diligent) my caloric intake. I can see all this at a glance and measure the trends from week to week. It’s been useful. I live with Crohn’s disease, and these metrics give me a basic sense of how I’m doing. The trouble is, of course, all those metrics I need to track for Crohn’s could be going well but I could still be seriously unwell. After all, there’s more than one way to be sick.

The same is true of our churches. I’ve had the great privilege of being in theologically careful churches the whole of my Christian life. I don’t take this for granted. At each of these churches, the Bible’s authority drove our ministries and teaching. In each case, the congregations were encouraged to listen to preaching with their Bibles open and to make certain what was taught lined up with what is in the text. Teachers were always open to correction, and I continue to rejoice in the blessing of the many years I sat under their faithful exposition.

But there’s more than one way to be unhealthy. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul wrote, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives … he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In that line, Paul makes a declaration I missed for many years. I’d always seen denying the faith as a theological failure, but here we see it’s also possible to deny the faith by what we do (or fail to do). It’s possible for someone who has never strayed theologically to deny the faith practically by failing to embody it.

We humans are culture-creators. How we are with each other always takes on a particular relational dynamic, shared personality, or noticeable tone. It’s true of friendship groups, workplaces, families, and churches. We shape one another in many complex ways, and a resulting culture always emerges. The question is, How fully does a church’s culture align with its doctrine? That’s why Ray Ortlund and I wrote the book You’re Not Crazy: Gospel Sanity for Weary Churches.

We’re longing for the beauty of Christ to shape every aspect of our churches—not only the content of our teaching but also the quality and flavor of our relationships. We believe that the culture of our churches, empowered by the doctrine of our churches, can make the presence of the risen Jesus a felt reality in this generation. Our hope is that this book can be the app that helps you track and improve your church’s cultural health, that it will be a catalyst for faithfulness so that the truth of Christ shapes your creeds and sermons and the beauty of Christ adorns your life together. When this is true, we believe our churches will be a prophetic presence in today’s world.

Find out more about You’re Not Crazy: Gospel Sanity for Weary Churches in the TGC store.

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