There can be a temptation to think of the gifts of the Spirit as one off specials or simply as tools in our tool-belt. This way of thinking can lead us down a path where we think we have done that, got the t-shirt, so to speak. We can become familiar with the gifts in a way that says, yes I can do that, what is next. I believe God is calling us in for something greater. That we might not simply establish tools in our tool-belt but create a culture where the gifts flow naturally within an environment. In particular I want to share about a prophetic culture.
I have spoken briefly on the power of culture previously on this blog. Established cultures are powerful things as they constrain and provide momentum through defining cultural norms. One definition of a culture is group of people with shared values. Sometimes these values are unspoken or learnt through experience. Someone stepping into a culture is easily swept along by the momentum of these inner values and outer behaviours. Anyone who has lived in another country will know that initially you can become acutely aware of not fitting in but over time you find yourself adapting and taking on behaviours, accents and values. No matter how hard you try to avoid it!
When I speak of developing a prophetic culture I mean developing a set of values where the prophetic is highly esteemed and often practiced. The result is an environment where the prophetic brings life to our communities. I have jotted down a few things I think are key in developing a prophetic culture.
A prophetic culture values Gods perspective on people and circumstances
At its most basic the prophetic is hearing from God and sharing it. This means our focus becomes very much what is on Gods heart right now. What does he think about this person in front of me? What does he say about this circumstance?
This is part of the life long journey of having our minds renewed. A journey every believer is on. Starting to have our thought patterns line up with God’s. It turns out God is not hopeless about any person or situation! He also has an amazing ability to see past peoples mistakes/oddities and sin! He sees peoples true identity and potential, always. A prophetic culture happens when a group of people set their heart on the goal of learning to see the world as God does. An inspiring and challenging goal indeed.
A prophetic culture is unashamedly encouraging
It is unfortunate that in recent years much of western culture has become increasingly cynical. The healthy and much needed skill of being able to question things too often slips into criticism, skepticism and negativity. Often the biggest obstacle to establishing a prophetic culture is not the inability to hear from God or finding people who love the prophetic or even a question of theology. Often the biggest challenge is our love affair with suspicion and our cynicism towards anything unashamedly positive.
We often associate positivity with naivety. Have we really become so starved of encouragement that it makes us suspicious! One of the main roles of the prophetic according to Paul in his letter to the Corinthians is encouragement. To develop a prophetic culture we have to get OK with encouraging others and be in a place of security ourselves that we can give without strings attached. Resting in the security that comes from our own relationship with God is the the foundation we need if we are to so freely distribute his love to others!
A prophetic culture finds you in the queue for coffee
You know you have people who carry a prophetic culture within them whenever they take it wherever they go. When the ability to hear what God says over someone else happens outside the Church’s four walls. When you are standing waiting for a coffee and you feel led to ask if the person in front of you is musical. When you give the cashier a brief encouragement about them being a great mother. When bringing God into our conversations becomes exciting. You are only ever a moment away from bringing the God’s hope into an individuals life. The kind of hope that has the potential to forever shape their future.
Lots of places talk about the prophetic, there are endless courses and books. There are very few places I would describe as having a prophetic culture. It is an exciting opportunity to see a community and nation transformed through God’s voice. A momentum of hope and grace to be all that we can be. Pressing onwards into the heart of God.
What can you do to grow a prophetic culture in your own life and community?