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Look before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture
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Look before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture


Baker 2013

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Before you can lead your church, you have to know your church. Pastoral ministry is challenging work. It is made even more challenging when a pastor ignores the church’s “congregational culture” when seeking to minister to members or implement changes. Just as a pastor studies to interpret the Scriptures, he or she must also interpret the local church culture to better understand and move the church toward accomplishing its mission and vision.

In Look before You Lead, trusted church leadership expert Aubrey Malphurs shows pastors how to read their church’s unique local culture, how to change or revitalize it, and even how to combine two cultures when one church adopts another. This unique resource approaches leadership and discernment from a solid, biblical perspective and includes a number of helpful appendixes that are key to reading and understanding the culture.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Explains the importance of understanding local church culture
  • Shows pastors how to interact with and revitalize their church’s culture
  • Includes a guide to interpreting church culture


  • The Basics of Congregational Culture
    • Why Leaders Should Read This Book: The Importance of Culture
    • What Are We Talking About? The Definition of Culture
    • What We Do: The Church’s Expression of Culture
    • Why We Do What We Do: The Church’s Cultural Values
    • What We Believe: The Church’s Beliefs
    • How We Respond: The Church’s Relationship to Culture
  • Reading Congregational Culture
    • Reading the Church: Understanding Its Culture Apple
    • Reading the Pastor: Discovering the Pastor’s Culture
  • Shaping Congregational Culture
    • The Church Planter as Culture Architect: Creating a New Church Culture
    • The Church Pastor as Culture Sculptor: Part 1 Preparation
    • The Church Pastor as Culture Sculptor: Part 2 Personnel
    • The Church Pastor as Culture Sculptor: Part 3 The Process
    • The Church Pastor as Culture Blender: Adopting Established Church Cultures

Praise for the Print Edition

Aubrey Malphurs was one of the seminary professors who shaped my thinking in ministry 25 years ago. I have read everything he has written. Why? You would have to read two dozen books to get what you get in just one of Aubrey’s. He is a master of boiling a big idea down to the essential action steps. He has done it again with Look before You Lead.

—Randy Frazee, senior minister, Oak Hills Church

There’s no one better to bring a step-by-step leadership guide to pastors than Aubrey Malphurs. Look before You Lead sheds practical and biblical light on the subject of church culture, a concept that many writers leave in the dark.

Will Mancini, founder, Auxano

A half century ago, no one in the United States was talking about church culture. Today church culture is a popular, but often misunderstood, concept. In Look before You Lead, Aubrey Malphurs assists church leaders to define, discover, and design a church culture that wins people to faith in Jesus Christ. Whether you are a church planter, pastor, or consultant, this book will help you develop a spiritually healthy organizational church culture.

Gary L. McIntosh, professor of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

Product Details

About Aubrey Malphurs

Aubrey Malphurs (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is senior professor of pastoral ministries and leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary and president of the Malphurs Group. He engages in church consulting and training, and is the author of more than 20 ministry books, including Doing Church: A Biblical Guide for Leading Ministries through Change.