Organizations can merge operations, but organizational cultures never truly merge. One culture will always subsume the other. The easy part is completing the paperwork to merge the two organizations. The hard part is dealing with the resultant culture clash.Eventually one culture will win and people will either assimilate or leave the organization.
During a conversation recently with an overseas missionary couple, they shared that one of the things they learned about their host country’s culture was that where you “clink” your glass during a toast with someone reflects what you think of that person’s position — either honor or subservience. When toasting a guest of honor, for example, you want to clink toward the bottom of the bowl of the glass, to show that they are of higher esteem than you.
However, they will often try to return the favor in deference to the host. What happens is sometimes a comical contest of each person trying to clink lower on the glass than they other person. The missionary husband told me, “I never thought we’d need ‘clink training’ as we prepared to serve overseas!”
We may laugh at the idea of “clink training” but there are hundreds of these types of customs and behaviors in every cultural context, whether in another country, in our own country, or even from region to region, organization to organization, or family to family. These customs are associated with deeply held cultural values and it’s easy to unintentionally offend if you are not aware of these values and customs.
If you are venturing into an unfamiliar culture, make sure you ask someone for clink training to learn the behaviors that are unique to that context. And if you’re in charge of welcoming newcomers (church visitors, new family members, prospective missionaries, new employees), make sure you provide clink training to help them acclimate to their new setting.
In honor of my Korean half-sister:
Check out this fascinating and important research by the Barna Research Group on the least churched cities in the U.S.
Barna tracked three categories of people:
- Unchurched. (Have not attended a church services, except for a holiday or special occasion, in the last six months.)
- Dechurched. (Used to attend regularly but now have not attended in the last six months.
- Never churched. (Have never attended a church regularly in their entire life.)
According to Barna’s research, the Bay area of California (San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose) is the most “churchless” city in the United States, with 61 percent of respondents having never attended church regularly. Western U.S. and New England cities top the list but there are some surprises further down. For example:
- Wausau/Rhinelander, WI (29th, 42 percent)
- Colorado Springs/Pueblo, CO (home of dozens of major Christian ministries — 54th, 35 percent)
- A number of cities situated squarely in the Bible Belt (Charleston, SC; Columbia, SC; Birmingham, AL; Raleigh/Durham, NC).
The United States is a bona fide mission field, and the need is not limited only to large or “liberal” cities or college towns.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a new coffee shop in town. Coffeehouse Five is a for-benefit coffeehouse in Greenwood that directs all proceeds to support stronger marriages and families in the community through five initiatives:
- Free pre-marital counseling.
- Free marriage counseling.
- Free addictions recovery programs.
- Free mentor couple training.
- Donation of 10% of proceeds to local food pantries.
Workers at Coffeehouse Five serve as volunteers so that more money can go toward these five initiatives.
The place had a great vibe and a good combination of quieter spaces for one or two people, along with tables for group meetings. The day I was there, it looked like a local church staff had decided to hold its meeting there. I am not a coffee drinker but my caffeinated friend said she couldn’t decide between all the great options. (I am a tea drinker and was personally a bit disappointed in the selection in that department.) The shop also sold all sorts of bakery treats and healthier, locally produced snacks.
I hope Coffeehouse Five succeeds, both in business and in accomplishing their greater mission.