Creating a Connecting Culture

Karlee Ferguson - Director of Communications | Awaken Church, Charleston, SC

Let’s talk about food. Because who doesn’t love food?!

Good food is one of God’s greatest gifts for us to enjoy… Am I right? 😉

Take a moment and think about the most satisfying meal you’ve ever had. Where were you, who were you with, what was it, and how did it make you feel?

Now consider… WHY was it so satisfying and enjoyable for you?

All good meals are made up of certain things. They are called ingredients. The ingredients are HOW you make the meal.

I’m going to share with us a new approach for how we see and understand culture. Simply put, culture is defined by “the way of life” or “the attitudes, beliefs, & behaviors of individuals/groups of people”.

Specifically, the culture at your church or your organization is understood as HOW you do what you do.

I want us to think about culture as ingredients to a recipe.

Here’s the scenario…

It’s dessert time and your mind is set on chocolate chip cookies. WHY are you planning to make homemade cookies? You’re craving something that will make your life better and taste sweeter. So, WHAT do you do? You pull out a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Typically, you’ll look for the one that has the best ratings, the best reviews, and has seemed to impact the most people.

Then, HOW do you make it? You dig a litter deeper to figure out all the ingredients. You make a list of all the things you need for that recipe and familiarize yourself with each ingredient that it will take to make it.

Each ingredient is important and necessary. They are the most important part to the recipe.

There is a reason why each one is included.

If you leave out an ingredient, you’ll notice it.

It won’t taste as good.

It probably won’t look as good.

It won’t bless you as much as it’s intended to.

Ultimately, it won’t be as satisfying as it’s meant to be!

It’s the same principle with WHY we do, WHAT we do, and HOW we do it at our specific churches. To explain further, I’ll share the vision, mission, and culture that we have established for the church and team I get to lead with at Awaken Church (Charleston, SC).

The WHY is our vision (it’s our goal and purpose).

**VISION STATEMENT: “We exist so that people far from God will be awakened to life in Christ”.

The WHAT is our mission (it’s our “recipe” for doing ministry at Awaken Church).

**MISSION STATEMENT: “We make disciples that gather together for worship, grow in faith through relationships, give of our time, talent, & treasure, and go after our one”.

The HOW is our culture (it’s the ingredients that make up the recipe for doing ministry at Awaken Church).


  1. We are a Jesus-led Movement.
  2. We embrace change.
  3. We risk the ocean.
  4. We love leadership.
  5. Our invitation deserves excellence.
  6. Honor is our attitude.
  7. We do more by doing less.
  8. We go after our one.
  9. We will be known for what we’re for.
  10. We’re in it to win it.

Now, just like with any meal or recipe, it takes time to “perfect” it. You’ve got to commit to it, buy into it, practice it, get to know the ingredients, remember it, reference it, and do some taste-tests along the way.

As leaders and volunteers, the best thing that we can provide our hungry community is a consistent, tasteful, and satisfying church experience that accurately represents and glorifies Jesus in every way. Just like when you go a restaurant to enjoy a meal, you want it to taste the same every time. You expect that. You are let down, maybe even disappointed or confused, when that’s not the case.

In the same way, it’s important to remember that culture is caught more than it’s taught. There must be an alignment and agreement to participate in the vision and the mission before you begin to lead it in any capacity. Remember, you can’t lead someone somewhere that you haven’t been before.

To create a culture that connects people to Jesus and to His church, you personally must have experienced it and embraced it for yourself. Then, you’ll need to clearly understand the next steps along the journey so you know how to best lead other people there. If not, we will slowly start to see us all “creating” different things that look different, taste different, feel different, and end up being inconsistent for each person that we are trying to reach. This is what will distract us from building and growing our churches in a healthy and godly way.

In closing, consider these final thoughts…

Why do you do what you do?

What’s the recipe that you are serving your community?

How do you make it and replicate it over and over each week so that everyone in your church can carry it out? (Disciples making disciples).

Be encouraged today! We get to be people that connect others to the life-giving culture that is found in the local church. We are messengers of the greatest story ever told, and we can make these opportunities to share the good news of Jesus attractive and flavorful – in the same way Jesus did – as we keep leading the same movement he started thousands of years ago.


Karlee Ferguson
Director of Communications
Awaken Church
Charleston, SC