This Vine Project team from the UK is taking the Phase 2 call for personal change seriously. The results have been impressive.
John* knew his team would need to spend time working patiently and intentionally through Phase 2: Reform Your Personal Culture. In the small community in the U.K. where he is a pastor, church attendance is more of a cultural norm than a reflection of an active commitment to Christ. Leading widespread culture change in his church would only happen if his leaders attempted to put their theological convictions into practice and modelled the change they wanted to see.
John decided to work through the four categories in Phase 2: the household, the world, the small group and the church. As a team, the group resolved to focus on one corporate goal at a time. They met in groups of three or four to coach each other through the blockages to change and to provide accountability.
Reforming personal culture in the home
Starting with their households, team members agreed to focus on reading the Bible with their children. For many, it was the first time they had thought of doing this. What felt strange and a little clunky at times gradually became normal. Both parents and their children have been encouraged and have grown as they have read and discussed God’s word together.
Reforming personal culture on Sundays
The team then turned their attention to reforming their personal culture in the Sunday gathering. They experimented with bouncing from the sermon into conversation about God and his word. This was a significant mind-shift and completely counter-cultural in this church. The team practised with other group members and as they talked about the sermons, they soon found that the way they listened, changed. As they grew in confidence, they started to discuss the sermon and God’s word beyond The Vine Project team. Some church members still baulk when team members start talking about the sermon, but others are starting to engage with them. By persevering and letting their convictions shape practice, the team are slowly but surely growing a disciple-making culture on Sundays.**
Reforming personal culture in the world
When it came to reforming their personal culture in the world, the team set another daunting task. They agreed to try to engage and evangelise their community by door-knocking the locals. This took them completely out of their comfort zone. To prepare, John led the group through a short evangelistic course and helped them to learn how to share their own Christian story. He then armed them with cards that invited people to church.
The team members were surprised by the response to their door-knocking challenge. There were no slammed doors or angry threats. Many of their neighbours were happy to talk about Jesus. The team members have grown in their competence to engage in evangelism. Two people have even started coming to church through their efforts.
The final focus area for the team will be reforming their personal culture in small groups.
As team leader, John is encouraged by the personal reformation of his team members. Their hearts and minds are being transformed one small step at a time and whilst it’s not a linear process, they are growing as Christ-learners. As they experience the success and failure of trying to reform their personal culture, they are being well prepared to move onto the evaluation phase.
* Not his real name.
** Download this postcard for church members to keep in their Bibles to remind them how to pray, think and speak to encourage others in Sunday meetings.