Creating Culture – Part 2

Posted on April 2, 2013 by


Blueprint With Compass

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/

How do we create culture?  The question is far too broad and deep to thoroughly address in a blog post (or even a series of posts).  Brilliant men and women spend their lives studying culture.  As leaders, we need to continually challenge ourselves; therefore, it is a worthwhile endeavor to spend time thinking, reading, and praying about culture.  In a previous post, Creating Culture, I presented the premise that the best way to impact culture is to create new culture.  Today, I invite you to consider the question ‘How do we create culture?’

I once heard Ken Myers (Former NPR Arts & Humanity Editor of Morning Edition, current President of Mars Hill Audio) speak at an ‘Institute on Contemporary Culture’ at my church.  He challenged us to think about our doctrine of creation – not creation vs. evolution; rather, Myers spoke about a theology built around the following idea: since we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), we are inherently creators.  According to Genesis, all of creation was good prior to the Fall since God deemed it so.  Adam and Eve were contributors of creativity.  Think for a moment about the last time you created something.  Perhaps nothing comes to mind immediately so consider the following: Have you ever upgraded the landscape around your home?  Have you ever built a stool, desk, table or cabinet?  Have you written a poem, song, or short story?  Taken a photograph or painted a picture?  As a Young Life leader you have written club talks and likely created run-on characters for a camp sell.  Our understanding of the doctrine of creation impacts us in many ways.  Myers points out that people often pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” yet they are either unaware of their God-given ability to help bring heaven to earth or they chose not to attempt to do so (  When we realize we are created in the image of the Creator, we begin to understand our potential as creators.

A second crucial factor in creating culture is recognizing that culture is cumulative.  We have all been given culture and cultural artifacts with which to work  (i.e. we have been placed into situations where “our little world” exists already).  Only God began ex nihilo (out of nothing – He is the uncreated Creator).  In Every Good Endeavor, authors Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf explore the notion that what we make of culture is simply rearranging what has already been handed to us.  Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and told to name animals (Adam), work the fields, and create family; in short they we were working with that which they were given (& given responsibility over).  Mankind has been working with, recreating and remixing the starting blocks ever since.  Consider your YL area.  What have you been given charge over, and what have you made of it?  Have you created any teams, a repeating calendar of events, a system for training and retaining leaders?  Certainly incarnational ministry is a YL distinctive; what are the distinctives of your Young Life area?

I relish the satisfaction I feel when I finish a project.  If I dismiss this feeling as simply completing a task, I minimized part of what I was created to do.  When I experienced similar satisfaction after a Fall Weekend, I recognized that I was building a unique culture of ministry that blended relationships, adventure, and humor.  I felt called by the Lord to share His great news with high schoolers, and I felt compelled to do so relationally.  Created in God’s image, I participated in creating a culture of campaigner-driven incarnational ministry.  These were not my original ideas, nor had I created the Young Life area; however, I did have creative input.  The YL area existed before I arrived, yet I had to walk alongside committee, leaders, and campaigners kids to teach, train, and empower them to productively contribute to the ministry.  I was entrusted with the responsibility of using God’s resources and leading God’s people to accomplish God’s tasks.  This was the work of creating culture.

We are always creating culture. The question is whether or not it is a healthy God honoring culture.  To help you think about the culture of your area, consider the following:   Restating a question already posed above,  what are your distinctives and non-negotiables as a mission community?  How vital is prayer?  Are humility, availability, and authenticity marks of your leaders, campaigners, and committee folks?  Is there an expectancy of discipleship that includes spiritual disciplines (means of grace), acts of service (work crew), servant leadership (older students care for & reach out to younger students) & multiplication?  Are your folks teachable and eager to learn?  Do people enjoy being together?  How would outsiders describe you if they shadowed you for a week?  Are people on your team rewarded for creativity and forward thinking?