Creating a Culture

Over the past four years, one of my favorite aspects of our life in Mexico is the relationship that I have with the high school students. I have had the privilege to teach them, spend time with them, and see some of them come to faith in Jesus. It gives me so much energy and joy to be around them. 

One thing that I have noticed over the past four years is how important creating a culture is for them.  But what is culture? 

“Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society.  Culture is the total way of life of particular groups of people.  It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does and makes — its systems, attitudes and feelings.  Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.” –Robert Kohl’s

Everyone in the world has a different ways of thinking because of the “group” or “family” that they have grown up in. I love what Mike Green says in his book, Creating a Discipleship Culture , “We are creating a culture, even if it’s unintentional. The question is, do we like the culture we are creating?”

I think of this question often as I spend time with my students and people in general. What kind of culture am I creating and how are people being formed to think and act?

As always, Jesus is our best example so we must look at how He lived. Jesus often created a culture not only by teaching people, but asking questions to those whom He spent time with.  In the Gospels alone, He asked 339 questions. He asked questions to engage with others (John 4:7-9), to help others think deeper (Luke 6:32-36), to help people see what’s inside their heart (Genesis 3:9, John 1:35-37), helping people see what they really want (Mark 10:35-38), and many others. Jesus created culture with questions. 

The best thing that I can do with my students is to build a culture of listening well and asking good questions. They will benefit greatly from knowing they are listened to and understood. They will respond to questions that get to the root of what may be going on their own lives.  My point is this: If we desire to follow the example of Jesus, we will learn to listen well and ask questions to know people more fully. This simple practice will transform us and those we interact with as we desire to be the vessel in which Christ flows. 

Theologian Francis Schaefer once said, “If I have only an hour with someone, I will spend the first 55 minutes asking questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last 5 minutes I will share something of the truth.”

The culture that we are making in and around us will form people, and we must be careful to form them in the ways of Jesus. We are all creating a culture of something; but do we like the culture that we are creating? 

-Daniel McDonald, GEM Missionary