Harnessing the WInds of Culture

Harnessing the WInds of Culture

The greatest influence on society is the power of culture.

Culture is the tacit social order of a group (tacid means the unspoken norm): It shapes attitudes and behaviours in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group.” Harvard Business Review: Boris Groysberg Jeremiah Lee Jesse Price, J. Yo-Jud Cheng

If you can acquire the ingredients that control culture you can control the destiny of the world.

Culture is like a soup. It is made up of three ingredients: Behaviours, Values and Beliefs.


Behaviours are how you act or how you behave. In a culture behaviours are social norms. Canadians are relaxed.

Canadian Culture

I read this recently about some distinctive of Canadian culture:

“Canadians are some of the most polite, tactful, and peace-loving human beings on the planet. In fact, a stereotypical Canadian is depicted as one who apologizes despite not being at fault. The society greatly values tolerance, humility as well as non-violence. There are 10 cultural norms generally observed in Canadian society. These are what they value highly and underlie many of their behaviours: Egalitarianism, Informality, Order and space, Decorum, Punctuality, Respect, Multiculturalism and diversity, Political correctness, Regionalism, Love for the environment


Where do our cultural behaviour come from? They come from values. Values are what is important to you.

They become standards by which people order their lives and make their choices.

Values are your treasures. You are not going to let go of them easily.

BELIEFS (Core ideas we hold as truth):

What creates our values: The base element of culture is beliefs.

What is a belief (Ideas you hold as true)?

A belief is an idea that a person holds as being true.

A person can base a belief upon certainties (e.g. mathematical principles), probabilities or matters of faith.

A belief can come from different sources, including:

  • a person’s own experiences or experiments
  • the acceptance of cultural and societal norms (e.g. religion)
  • what other people say (e.g.education or mentoring).

A potential belief sits with the person until they accept it as truth, and adopt it as part of their individual belief system.

Each person evaluates and seeks sound reasons or evidence for these potential beliefs in their own way.

Once a person accepts a belief as a truth they are willing to defend, it can be said to form part of their belief system.

The Art of Influencing Culture

Over human history governments and people groups have realized the power of culture and have realized that if you could control culture you could control the world!

At the time of Jesus there was a superpower that Romans were cultural engineers. They controlled the entire world. They had become cultural engineers.

They learnt the art of culture shaping from the Greeks. The Greeks had learnt culture shaping from the Phoenicians.

Phoenicians were a people who occupied the eastern Mediterranean. The Phoenicians had a great sea trading empire. They were very famous for many things including the alphabet, cedar ships, and purple cloth. They were very involved in trade, art, and religion.

The Phoenicians understood the best way to keep a people group you had conquered conquered , was to enculturate them in your beliefs and values. Once indoctrinated they would end up going with the flow.

By the time the Romans came along, they had perfected this art enculturation.

They would establish Rome’s:

  • legal system
  • Religion
  • education system
  • language
  • government
  • financial systems
  • entertainment
  • customs in the nation.
  • When the Roman army conquered a new nation the Emperor would send a fleet of ships sent from Rome to the new land to enculturate the nation. The culture builders’ jobs was to begin to intricate the new territory with the ways of Rome.

The Embodiment of Rome

Amongst this fleet and army of personnel and specialists sent on the mission of enculturation was one person who was like the Queen Bee of the entire operation.

He was more than a culture builder, he was the culture of Rome. He embodied Rome itself. You cut him in half and he bleed Rome.

The successful execution of this culture builder’s job was that when Caesar arrived for a visit in the conquered nation it would feel like Rome.

This specialist culture builder had a name. He was called an APOSTLE.

Jesus the great culture builder

Jesus’ mission was not on an escape assignment.

He was on a take over mission.

He conquered the earth.

Jesus was an apostle:

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,  Hebrews 3:1

One sent the Holy Spirit

Who sends:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

Who did Jesus point at the spearhead of His movement?

Priests? No


1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. Matthew 10:1-4

They were not religious people, they were culture shifters.

Apostle was not a common terms in Jewish life.

“Apostles was not a religious term in any way in the Jewish faith. There was no equivalent. The Jewish Historian Josephus, who wrote extensively in Greek only used the term apostolos about a delegation of Jewish messengers to Rome.”

Jesus imported something he saw in the Roman world because it was fundamental to the success of His On earth as it is in heaven mission He gave to His followers.

He founded a cultural revolutionary movement. Jesus was after culture in the same way that the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians did.

The goal of the Church was always to turn this world into Heaven on earth so that when God comes visiting it feels like home.

How do we do that?

How do we create culture?

Jesus called us to be salt

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Mat 5:13

Jesus in calling us to be salty was calling us to so embody the Kingdom of God that we would influence everything around us.

He didn’t call us to blend in. When Israel lived in Egypt they had lost their saltiness. When Pharaoh asked Moses, he wanted to know  “Who is the LORD [YAHWEH]” (Exodus 5:2). This was a remarkable statement for a nation that was polytheistic. They worked every god under the sun and beyond. If they heard of a new god they would add it to their list of gods. The fact that Pharaoh had not heard of YAHWEH could only mean one thing. Israel had become Egypt. They had lost their saltiness. 

For us to influence the cultures of this world we need to be full of the Kingdom. The only way we can do that is to have the culture of the Kingdom living in us. The Kingdom of God is an inside out Kingdom. In order to be this potent we need to have cultivated the Kingdom within. Knowing the values that sustain the culture of His Kingdom. 

Over the last three years we have been building with 5 core beliefs:

  • God is Good
  • Jesus Blood
  • Nothing is impossible
  • I am Significant
  • The Kingdom has drawn near

We want to add 13 Values that flow out of these beliefs:


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