Making Baking and Faking Culture

Do you ever stop to consider the culture of your business, nonprofit organization, home, or any of the other spaces you occupy?

According to, culture is the sum of behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular group of people. Every organization demonstrates elements of a particular culture that has developed over time. Churches, for example, tend to exhibit either an internal culture or an external culture. Do the actions of the staff, volunteers, and attenders demonstrate a focus on those who are not a part of the church (external culture) or do the majority of words and behaviors demonstrate a focus on those within the church (internal culture).

Culture is something that sometimes only an outsider can name for a particular group of people unless those on the inside are intentional to honestly discern their current culture. This requires putting everything that an organization is doing down on paper and then putting that paper in front of those within the organization. Of course every church would claim to have an externally focused culture, which is why organizations many times have to hire a consultant to come in and define the culture for its leadership. Culture gets comfortable quickly for those within.

The great misperception of culture is that it is always natural. I used to believe that culture just happens and the culture of a particular group of people or organization was the same at its beginning as it is today. What I have learned over time, however, is that culture is made. Sometimes culture is developed without intentionality, but it is always made over time. Culture never simply emerges without reason.

The good news is that culture is made so culture can be changed.

The best leaders are culture changers. But changing culture is long and hard work.

We are being intentional to develop a particular culture of worship in 801South that we believe best suits our environment. As with any other culture making or changing, this means regularly encouraging certain behavioral patterns and always teaching why we do what we do. For example, in concert with the song Alive, our worship leader Erik Langston has taught on one of the Hebrew words for praise, which is halal. This is the same word from which we get hallelujah. Halal means, among other things, “to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish.” We want to create a culture of celebration in 801South so it makes sense for us to provide lots of opportunity for halal in our worship experience. Erik has plans to teach on even more Hebrew words for praise that will provide a Biblical basis for the culture of worship we are developing in 801South.

Another behavioral pattern critical to making the type of culture we desire in 801South is singing. We want every man, woman, and child singing the songs as loudly as their lungs and vocal cords will allow. This is one reason why we turn the volume up. When I can’t hear myself singing, I know no one else can either, and I let loose. If I can hear myself, I restrain.

We are also launching a new tool this week that we think might help to develop our desired culture of worship and get even more people singing. Each week, we will post links to the songs we will be singing in 801South that coming Sunday.

Check out this Sunday’s setlist and start practicing today.

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