Breaking the Culture Code: The Role Culture Plays in Effective Leadership Within the Black Church

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In the Black Church tradition, community and connection are the bedrocks on which the culture stands. Much of what is known to be Black culture today was established in the heart of Black religion and the Black Church. This evidence can be found in the way Black religion is expressed. Within the Black Church, religion is expressed in cultural forms like music and song styles, content of preaching, and modes of worship that reflect the overall Black culture.

A good way to understand how people connect, form, and maintain community is by examining their belief system or religious orientation. Although a study of a people’s religion may not answer all the questions about their culture, it would point to a common core of values on which the culture is founded. Conversely, if leadership within religious organizations are viewed through the lens of culture, then perhaps some insight would be gained to why leaders lead the way they do.

Understanding and interpreting Black Church culture is key to effective leadership within that context. Although successful culture may look, and feel, like magic, the truth is that it is not. Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. The decisions that are made by a few determine the culture experienced by many.


Doctor of Ministry




Bratton, Tyrone (2019). Breaking the Culture Code: The Role Culture Plays in Effective Leadership Within the Black Church. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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