|DYNAMIC APOSTOLIC CULTURE IN A CHANGING WORLD|
By Dr Tunde Bakare
We are living in an ever-changing world. The old rules are changing. It is not yet clear what the new rules are. In what seems like a never-ending transition, the only abiding haven is the Word of God (THE WORD OF GOD ABIDES FOREVER).
For those who do not know the mind of the Father or what the Holy Spirit is saying to the living Church, the speed and complexity of the changes are difficult for them to absorb. Futurists, Historians and Social Scientists agree that the transition to a networked world economy (GLOBALISATION and THE NEW WORLD ORDER) is the biggest shift in the way the world functions since the Industrial Revolution. This is the propelling force behind the global craze for mergers (All the waters flow into the Sea but the Sea is not full). Be that as it may, there is no such thing as a Spontaneous Generation. Consequently, there must be a bridge between the Past, Present and Future. In every society, the working class remains the Bridge generation spanning the gap between the old and new ways of living and doing business in the world.
Since we are in the world but not of the world, how do we change our strategies (not Principles) to capitalize on this networked world is the question on the lips of Recognized Apostolic voices worldwide. While companies have directed and are directing a great deal of attention to the external business issues/factors of designing, marketing, selling and delivering goods and services instead of the internal infrastructure changes of the hardware, software and people-ware, True Apostolic Networks are coming to the realization and understanding that true and Fruitful Transition is built on Choice People. Genuine Corporate Apostolic Culture then is “The People-ware” in action.
Based on the above, Corporate Culture is the major component of the infrastructure engine that either drives the direction the Apostolic Network has set for itself or the spanner in the wheel of progress of its progress. The corporate culture of the network will either propel it towards Finish or it will create obstacles that will block its route. No matter what a company or organization spells out as its main goals or objectives, the way people actually behave, think and believe will determine what really happens.
Over the years, God has progressively revealed the needed changes in G.A.I.N. to take us as we transit from a single primary apostolic source to many regional and national apostolic centers across the earth. These Apostolic Centers and their leaders constitute “THE BRIDGE GENERATION” between the Apostolic Base in Lagos/Atlanta and the rest of our Territorial Influence across the earth. We have been careful not to become an organization patterned after a worldly system of operation, majoring in the external works of marketing and self-promotion, but have kept ourselves in the Hollow of His Hands. Since 1993 when we launched A.I.M. (Association of Interdependent Ministries) till we adopted our new name, G.A.I.N., over five years ago, we have been working on the internal culture of our network, the inner dynamics of our spirit life and on the meaningful levels of covenant relationships that have positioned us today as a Key Network giving hope to the fallen, strength to the weak and joy to those in the fore-front of the Kingdom race.
We have, by God’s grace, refused to merchandise what God has freely invested in us (not without great cost and sacrifice on the part of the Lord and ourselves). We have coveted no man’s gold or silver. We have by grace stood in the defense of the Authentic Gospel. God knows the sacrifice, the pain and the struggles we have continually had so that we can fulfill together our destiny in G.A.I.N. as an extended Covenant Family. NOW IS THE TIME OF OUR CORPORATE HARVEST. This is our Kairos of God’s Favor, Abundant grace, Honor, Fullness, Overflow, Significance and Relevance. The time is ripe for us to take a giant leap into the future and into the tremendous door of God-given opportunity to reach the nations of the world, especially those we have been sent and have been pouring our lives into over the years and months.
G.A.I.N. has become stronger in bonds of Covenant Relationship of Trust, Integrity and Loyalty. The honor for each man and the respect for each other’s grace have kept us valuing the life of every one of our Network Pastors and Entrepreneurs. We are creating a model of the new dynamic corporate culture that can exist among a company of mighty men of valor and women of substance whose only agenda is to extend the Kingdom of God on earth and glorify His Holy Name.
The Internal Life Dynamics within our network will give us the propelling power to press toward Finish. We will move together without breaking ranks, properly aligned to the apostolic structure of grace. God is upon us to bless and prosper our endeavors. He is pursuing us to raise up, for a time such as this, a strong apostolic force to reckon with. Let us arise and go forth as the sent ones of the Lord into our assigned Harvest Fields.
WHAT IS CORPORATE CULTURE?
There are three major components of corporate culture. Firstly, it is the shared underlying assumptions and core values that have become the foundational base of operation. Secondly, it is the behaviors and habits that predetermined “the way we do things around here”. Thirdly, it is the symbols and languages that become the tangible and most visible items, which you can see, hear and touch in a company.
The Shared Underlying Assumptions and Core Values
This is the deepest part of the culture. They are the hub of the wheel for everything else about the culture. Often these assumptions are so deeply ingrained in the people in the organization. It is simply the way things are and questioning these beliefs would cause an offense. For example, asking hospital staff and nurses if they thought it mattered whether the staff purposely harmed the patients. The question sounds absurd. Any healthcare staff member would be insulted if you even asked that question.
Underlying assumptions and core values are inextricably intertwined in any culture. They are the most deeply held beliefs of this group, the beliefs that drive the actions of its members. They consistently act on what they say they believe. The core values do not change even if they are going to a new level of operation or into a new field in their search for better markets. When the core values are drastically changed, the nature of the business has evolved so deeply that the original modes of operation, the behavior and habit patterns, and the formal policies and procedures have also taken an evolvement. The original features are no longer existent.
The updating and clarification of core values only enhance the operation of any business. It will not hinder the flow of business or operational procedures. It will only bring accuracy to behavior and habits within the company. The core values keep the corporate culture identifiable and distinctive.
The Corporate Apostolic Culture in G.A.I.N. is embedded in the core values that we have established over the twelve years of pioneering, nurturing, fathering and networking with ministers in our network.
In G.A.I.N., our core values are centered on raising governing churches to influence the city and impact the nations. We are driven with a passion to build these churches according to the New Testament apostolic patterns. These types of churches carry governing territorial influence in the spirit and are able to raise breakthrough believers, winning teams of multiple ministries and have inner spirit dynamics to rise in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our core values and belief system in the position of stature of the governing church informs our passion to seek to build it accurately. We know our influence into the region is lost without a strong apostolic base with this nature. We understand that kingdom revival or harvest cannot be contained, maintained and multiplied without a strong wineskin and structure that these governing territorial churches provide.
This core belief is entrenched in our thoughts, lifestyle and messages - to build this church as God wants it to be built!
In G.A.I.N., our core belief and value system is not just in a message of Reformation or present day truths God is restoring. They are only a means to an end and not an end in itself. Our core belief is centered on the accuracy of the blueprints for building these churches. It is centered on the apostolic strategies God has given us to build such a house and a habitation for God. Thus, we are not interested in keeping people interested in the message alone but rather in the implementation of accurate strategies that will raise His church. G.A.I.N. breat hes this core belief and desires to raise Network pastors who will excel in the pursuit of an apostolic base of operation. They will not just be preachers of apostolic messages, words and lingo, but will be builders of prophetic/apostolic churches.
The Behavior Patterns and Habits
The behavior patterns and habits of the people working for the company make up the middle layer of culture. This is the layer described when people say “This is the way we do things around here”. In the field of Social Sciences this layer of culture is called NORMS. The norms include everything from the formal policies and procedures to the informal habits and tactics employees use to function effectively within the company.
These behavior patterns operate as the ground rules and guidelines. By carefully watching how veteran employees act, a newcomer figures out quickly which actions are encouraged and which ones are not. When you find a new job, much of the first week is spent trying to catch on this layer of culture. You do not want to make too many mistakes when you are new because it can trigger the age-old tribal reactions. It will never let you become a full-fledged member of the group.
Some of the cultural behaviors and habits that are most noticeable are the distinctive actions that the organization tolerates or even encourages. In G.A.I.N., we move with everyone who is flowing on in God but develop strong relationships and work ethics with only those who are connected to us in destiny. This allows us to be at peace with every group of present day proclaimers of the reformation. This protects us from becoming targets for the frustration and evil talk of others.
We acknowledge the grace of God in others may be functioning differently and so we honor them for what they are doing but jealously guard what God is doing through us. This openness towards others will keep us from being exclusive in nature and sectarian in spirit. Nonetheless, if we have to confront errors, we do so with wisdom and God-given grace, especially by separating issues from personalities, and that in a Biblical fashion. This attitude allows us to be at peace with all men as much as possible (Hebrews 12:14).
In many apostolic networks, certain initiatives can get you into hot soup because of a hierarchical system of leadership but G.A.I.N. allows freedom for new developments, ideas, new styles of ministries and even a multiplication of what is done at The Apostolic Base in Lagos or Atlanta. We are hoping to multiply not just sons and ministries but also wholesome apostolic bases. This is an acceptable behavior in this corporate culture.
We are convinced that in order for these governing churches to arise and fulfill their role in influencing and impacting their regions, certain behavioral patterns and habits must also be formed and fashioned in their congregation.
Such behavioral patterns include (i) raising breakthrough believers and encouraging them to walk in honor of covenant with the house of God and with its leadership, (ii) the willingness to labor for kingdom purposes, making the necessary sacrifices for breakthroughs and kingdom advancement. These norms provide clarity to our identity as a group of ministers and ministries. These behavior patterns should become the norm and should become the trademark in all the G.A.I.N. network pastors and churches.
This layer of our corporate culture has attracted to us so many churches and ministries across the earth that have a desire to move on in the present day apostolic reformation. The behavior patterns in G.A.I.N. are becoming a model and a pattern for others to embrace.
The Symbols and Language of The People
This makes up the third key element of the culture of any organization. Symbols and artifacts are all the tangible items you can see, touch and hear (e.g. corporate colors, logo, hats, t-shirts, songs, dress code, office layouts, etc.). Think of those culture elements as the simplest and most visible layer of culture. This identifiable “look of the company” is the most visible and simplest level of culture.
The language includes the industry lingo, insider phrases and favorite words of company employees. Some of these words are generic to the company but many are unique to the individual enterprise. Each organization has its own distinct dialect that an outsider will notice immediately.
In G.A.I.N., the wholesome expression of love for God and one another should hit outsiders as a very visible layer of our culture. The strength of relationship must be obvious to the naked eye. It is not only created but should exist in abundance whenever we gather together such that an onlooker can read and be touched by its genuineness and also its depth. This visible layer of the culture would allow easy assimilation of others who want to connect with us.
The language or the particular words we use are also connecting points for many. The words of the Spirit like IMPACTING THE WORLD! IMPARTING THE CHURCH!! and IMPLANTING THE GLORY!!! cause many babies to leap in the wombs of those who are wanting connection in destiny. Words like APOSTOLIC PASSION FOR THE HARVEST, FINAL FRONTIER, PURITY OF DOCTRINE, DISMANTLING THE OCCULT, A NEW BREED WITHOUT GREED, A RADICAL OPPOSITION TO CORRUPTION, YOU CAN WIN BY RIGHTEOUSNESS, ACCURATE BIBLICAL PATTERN, CITY TAKERS AND WARRING PRINCES OF THE PLANET, all draw certain frequencies in the Spirit. They create vibrations in the spirit realm and activate divine stirring in others.
The visible part of our culture allows others to be tuned in to our frequencies quickly. They become comfortable with our presence and our ways. Our words bring clarity, peace and mutual acceptance among those who are already hearing these things from God themselves and those who have been taught by His Spirit (1 John 4:6).
What Do We Change And What Do We Keep?
Historically, the hub of the wheel (core values) tends to be the most stable element of a culture. The core beliefs rarely change. As the market demands technology or products change, everything changes except the core layer. We change our behavior habits, symbols and language, but not the core.
We must preserve the core values and belief system while stimulating progress. If we are to meet the challenges of this millennium, we must be prepared to change everything about ourselves except our basic belief and core values. Stability of our corporate apostolic culture comes from the core belief of building a governing church with stature to influence the city and impact the nations. Flexibility comes from everything else. We can change the style of our breakthrough worships, the way we preach and teach, the way we collect our weekly offerings and tithes. We can stop meeting on certain days and choose other days if all these changes are going to help bring our core belief into reality. We are prepared to change the second and third layer of apostolic culture if it will hinder our core value from becoming a reality.
All our present strategies in G.A.I.N. are consistent with the core. Our desires to raise strong breakthrough believers, wholesome winning teams, raising spiritual water levels in the church and in the community, and developing apostolic structures to contain, maintain and multiply what God is doing are all strategies that are aligned and consistent with our core belief for the governing church.
Strategies are plans that cannot fail. When the strategies are building towards our core, the strategies are a success. We can remove every stumbling block out of the way so that all our network churches will operate in fulfilling the core of our corporate culture.
Changing the core elements of the culture, that is, the underlying convictions and core values, is very disruptive and destructive to the people living through the transition. Usually such transitions require massive changes of personnel, especially in the leadership ranks. These new leaders then make sweeping changes throughout the organization and many people will lose their jobs. The organization will go in for a bumpy ride.
When core values are changed, the nature of G.A.I.N. will evolve into something else. G.A.I.N. will lose its spiritual purpose and stature before God. The grace of God on G.A.I.N. for its mission here on earth will no longer be functioning in us. The apostolic grace is for apostolic work and walking away from the mainframe work does not entitle us to cash in on the same grace. Let us be careful not to end in DIS-GRACE.
When core values are changed, the behavior and habits will also change. All that has kept us together before will no longer be there. Those who have lived enjoying the strength of this second layer of culture will be shocked that “the way we do things around here” has changed. The disillusion of those who have been blessed before creates unnecessary friction among the ranks and discord will destroy the whole organization. The people will accuse the company of abandoning its core value and beliefs.
When that happens, the pastor is not the same as he used to be. The movement is not what it used to be. The people are not like they used to be. All these frustrations will follow the disruptive change of the original core values of G.A.I.N. network pastors and churches.
Keeping to the core values will protect G.A.I.N. from becoming another entity in the future. Core values will not allow new leaders to rise within our midst and hijack the purpose of God for our network. (See Paul in Acts 20:17-35)
Let us allow God to keep us on the straight and narrow, and be faithful stewards of this apostolic grace entrusted to us.