A few years back I was at a conference in which the leaders kept using the phase, “culture eats vision”. I must admit that when they said it, I had no idea what they were saying. The catchphrase must be important, because they repeated it so many times, so I started to ask questions about it.
The truth is it’s a really simple concept. Basically it is saying “your habits and environment will dictate the success of your vision”. For example, let’s say your vision is to lose weight and become healthy. That’s a great vision, but if you want it to become a reality, you may need to change your culture. You may need to get rid of all the junk food currently in your pantry. You may need to rearrange your budget and schedule so that you can buy fresh produce and healthy ingredients regularly. You may need to end your work day sooner or get up earlier so that you can exercise. The reality is if nothing changes in your day to day habits, your vision of losing weight and becoming healthy will never succeed.
So if culture eats vision, what changes culture? Systems…system change culture that reinforce vision. Using the above example, if you set up a new system for eating healthy (one that includes changing your budget and your schedule), your chances of achieving your vision will exponentially increase.
As this relates to the church and your organization, it’s exactly the same. If your vision is a culture of outreach, discipleship, authentic confession, and worship, the way to achieve this vision is to create systems that will change the culture. For example, if you want to be a church in which the vision of ‘disciples that make disciples’ is a way of life, then what system do you have that will attract, build, connect and develop disciplers? What books and resources do you use? What ‘next step’ do people need to take? What will you do to develop training so that people are confident to be disciplers? What system will you create so that people will continually be reminded that discipleship is an important part of your mission?
It’s not rocket science, if your culture is one of junk food and couch surfing, losing weight and being healthy are not in your future. However, if you create a culture that reinforces your vision, you will achieve your goals. Culture eats vision, so if you want to change your culture, build systems that reinforce that vision.