Understanding Church Culture – Pastor Brad Hill

Anthropologists might define culture something like this: Culture is the collection of norms, rituals, and behaviors that a group of people share and that is transmitted through symbols within a system. I think of culture as being expressed by stories, rituals, artifacts, language, heroes and habits. If we were to apply this to a church, any church, how would you describe the SCC church culture?

What are the formative stories of SCC (I tried to do that in my “Psalm of Shoreline” earlier)? Starting out small on “15th” street, opening of the preschool, the common meals, Camp Casey events, the coming of Pastor Mike, the hymnal debate, building and remodeling, High Tops, Covenant Kids, Called out, various significant deaths and hiring, probably this difficult transitional period, and so on. The memory of these stories shapes how the church thinks about itself. What do you consider to be two or three of the most formative SCC stories?

Every church has rituals. This is “how we do things,” such as communion, or “second Sunday has a missions feature.” There are coffee and greeting rituals. Worship order is a ritual. Putting bibles under the chair is a ritual. What rituals do you see? What ones do you find meaningful?

SCC has artifacts. “Where are the Easter banners?” The library is an “artifact”- it is a physical presence that if explored will show what used to be important. The special parking signs are artifacts. So is the leaking roof. The communion table. The cross up front. The photo board. “Yep, that shows who we are.” What artifacts tell the SCC story? Which tell it best?

Language is very revealing. There are words we don’t say and ones that we are supposed to say. “God is good…” and everyone says “all the time.” Where is the “narthex” exactly? (Btw, that is the lobby!).Evangelical, saved, justified, Covenant, “Chicago”, PSC and MMC, rooms 7-8. You need to learn these words to be a part of the culture. Listen for SCC language. Do you speak it?

Heroes…the church has heroes. When you did the historical forums, certain clusters of names occurred often: Montzingo, Fleming, Carney, Gustafson, Vance, Haub, Guerrero and many others. What other names would you add? What do they mean to the SCC story and identity?

Habits died hard…but some are good! Where do you sit? How do you disagree? How people trust each other, trust leadership, stewardship, the emotional and physical engagement of worship. What habits good and bad do you see at SCC? What are yours?

What of SCC culture do you value? What would you like to see changed?