In its simplest definition, culture is the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group. Essentially, culture is the environment in which you live, culture is the environment in which you worship, and culture is the environment in which you work.
But the culture of our home, church, and workplace are not the only cultures we interact with every day. We visit the cultures that we like and avoid the ones we don’t. For example, McDonald’s has a familiar culture. You know what the food is going to taste like, you know the happy meals are $2.99, and you know the general menu options. If you like that culture, you visit it and you buy their food.
My family won’t go to McDonald’s. One, we found their environment “moist” because all too often their buildings are wet and dirty. I don’t want McDonald’s because I think the food will kill you so we don’t visit that culture.
Instead, we go to restaurant cultures that we like, and the ones that we think are safe and friendly. We go to ones where we think the food is affordable and good for us.
This is true for church.
This is true for your gym.
This is true for most places you go.
You go to the culture you like.
Additionaly, at work, at home, and at church, you play a part in creating your culture. And, cultures change. They don’t stay the same. Cultures are dynamic; they’re not static. You get to create the culture that you work in, worship, and live.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re working hard, you’re working safe, you are working steady, and you are working sturdy. This could be home, this could be at work, and this could be serving at church. Good job, but the person beside you is complaining.
“Ugh, this is so hard. I don’t like this. I’m so tired of this.”
Now, one of you is about to create the culture. They are going to create a culture of complaint or you are going to create a culture of something else. You can say, “Yeah, I’m tired of this too,” or you can say, “Hey man, I know it’s hard, but it won’t get any better if we complain. C’mon, let’s do this.”
One of you is going to create the culture, and one of you has the opportunity to be the dominant voice and create the dominant example.
The dominant voice and the dominant example always create the culture. So, today, at home, work, church, or wherever, be the dominant voice to create a culture that is encouraging, inspiring, honoring, and enjoyable. It will encourage and transform the weary and transform your jobs, your church, and your home.
A section of Philippians to read.
A brief time of explanation.
A few questions about the reading.
A guided prayer time.
As families work through the book, they will eventually read the entire book of Philippians together and get to enjoy and complete thought in scripture together. Enjoy this chapter from Philippians 1:12-14 as an example.
Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
In this section of Philippians, Paul is writing a letter to the Philippian church while he is sitting in a prison. You know what a prison is, right? It is the place criminals go when they break the law. Do you know why Paul was in prison? Paul was there because he told people about Jesus.
Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that if you told someone about Jesus you would go to jail? That would be pretty scary. But Paul did that, and here is the amazing thing. Paul was thankful.
What would cause Paul to be okay with going to prison? Well, Paul was glad that the gospel was being advanced. That means that Paul was excited that people were talking about Jesus. Not only was the church talking about Jesus, even his prison guards were talking about Jesus.
And you know what? The church wasn’t scared about going to prison either. In fact, seeing Paul go to prison and telling people about Jesus made the church even more bold in talking about Jesus.
How can that happen? Aren’t people supposed to be scared about prison?
Well, Paul and the Philippian church trusted God. They were okay with however God wanted people to know about Jesus. That takes a lot of trust and a lot of faith in God.
It is scary to think about going to prison or people being mad at you because of Jesus. But is it exciting to think that God will help us no matter what happens.
Here are some questions to think through and answer with your parents.
Do you ever talk about Jesus when you are not at church or with your parents? Why or why not?
Have you ever been afraid to talk about Jesus? Why? Describe that time.
Ask your parents for examples of when they have talked about Jesus.
As you think about those things, maybe you and your family could pray about them for your family and your church. Would you?
Pray with your parents for boldness to speak to others about Jesus.
Pray with your parents to trust God no matter what happens.
You can find “Family Philippians” as a pdf download here, and also at
So many children groan when they hear their parents mention a family devotional or when their parents speak of a family prayer time. Because of this, many parents just give up on even having them. But there is some hope. As Moses prepares the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land, he gives them this command:
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This incredibly memorable command, also known as the Shema, has guided people of faith for thousands of years. The Lord your God is one. He is to be loved with all of you: your heart, your soul, and with all of your might. However, these words are not just for the individual. They are to be taught and passed onto future generations. Your children are to know that their God is Lord and one. He is not satisfied with segments of their life (or yours). He demands all of those that worship Him. He demands their person, their mind, and every action.
Teaching our children is incredibly challenging, and many parents express to me their frustration or sense of failure in instructing their kids. In fact, some parents have even been so honest as to tell me that is why they want programs for their children at church because they feel they are not doing a good job at home. When we think about the amount of time parents have with their children versus the amount of time the church has, it’s astonishing. Yes, churches should aid parents in teaching their children, but parents have the first and foremost responsibly, especially as seen in Deuteronomy 6…and parents have a ton of more time with their kids (as it should be).
I can’t tell you how many parents have given up on the concept of family devotions after only one or two tries. Sadly, instead of trying a different model or pushing through, many families just give up. There is massive criticism of what those in political or educational power are trying to teach children, but so often, parents quit even trying to teach their kids in the faith. Without purposeful instruction, that leaves teaching about Jesus, the Gospel, the Bible, and pretty much everything else related to Christianity to times of correction. Obviously, there are lessons in correction, but can you imagine only learning about driving a car when the police officer gives you a ticket? Learning before hand sure would be helpful.
So, how can families grow in instructing and teaching their children about Jesus and their faith?
Reggie Joiner in his book “Think Orange” makes some fascinating observations about how these truths can best be communicated and related to children. He emphasizes that there are teaching patterns within Deuteronomy 6 that we can incorporate into our families to help them know God and know Him better. He points out that Moses emphasizes 4 teaching time in Deuteronomy 6:
- When you sit at home.
- When you walk along the road.
- When you lie down.
- When you get up.
Applying those to our day, Joiner finds 4 incredible opportunities each day to speak of God. They are:
- Eating meals together (sitting at home).
- Walking or traveling together (when you walk along the road).
- Tucking children into bed (when you lie down).
- Getting up in the morning (when you get up).
What makes each of these times unique is that the parent can communicate differently, teach under a different role, and aim for a different goal each time.
- For example, meal times offer the chance for a formal discussion where the parent is a teacher establishing values.
- Drive times offer informal conversations where the parent is a friend helping their child interpret life.
- Bed time offers intimate conversation where the parent can be a counselor building intimacy.
- Morning time offers encouraging words from a parent/coach who is hoping to instill purpose.
If parents take advantage of each of these opportunities, instructing their children becomes less formal and less forced. The pressure is off so to say. In fact, the biggest adjustment will come on the part of the parent instead of the child. The parent has to make a concerted effort to take advantage of opportunities instead of rushing through a meal, shooing their kids to bed, entertaining them in the car, or rushing them to school.
If you give up on teaching your children, someone or something is going to take your place. Sometimes it is the helpful instruction of the church, and sometimes it is the media, politicians, schools, friends, or whatever. One way or the other, children will be instructed. Owning Deuteronomy 6 means looking for and being prepared for practical and advantageous opportunities to tell your kids about Jesus.
This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.