If Your Culture is Stuck, HOW is It Stuck?

You’ve taken a big step to read this article if you’re reading it the week it was published. It’s September, and that means you’re slammed. You are either launching or have recently launched initiatives for the fall. If you have kids to get into the school routine, that only compounds the busyness.

Will this September get your organization and your people moving forward? Will this fall’s initiatives make a difference? Or will it be a fast-moving treadmill, drawing a lot of energy but not getting anywhere?

Last September was as busy for leaders everywhere as this one is. But did it get them as far as they hoped it would? Or are they merely back to doing more of the same as last year—maybe a little more, maybe a little less, maybe some changes around the edges, but essentially making the same swift strokes to keep the organization’s head above water?

If you feel that your organization’s disciplemaking culture is stuck, you are not alone. Many leaders feel that way.

When we’re stuck, our instincts push us to try a little harder or maybe to flip some switches and turn some dials that are easy to reach.

But culture shift isn’t primarily about technique. It’s primarily about relationship—the relationship between your organization and the individuals that make it up. Until the relationship changes, the culture won’t.

There is not just one kind of stuck relationship, however. To understand how to move your culture forward, you first need to understand what the relationship between organization and people is like today. You diagnose it by asking two questions:

  • Is my organization clear about its unique calling from God?
  • Are individuals in my organization clear about their unique calling from God?

These two questions yield four answers that indicate where your organization is now and where it needs to go next.

Relationship #1: “What are we doing?”

When organizational clarity is low, the organization may help people, but without a clear vision, its leaders’ hope for the future defaults to merely engaging more people. Likewise, when personal clarity is also low, an individual may be loyal to the organization while it delivers what he or she likes. But without a clear vision, the individual defaults to seeking personal gratification, even if it is defined in spiritual terms.

No matter what good things might be happening in the organization, when organizational clarity and personal clarity are both low, the organization has gotten stuck in “preservation mode.” No organization starts out this way. There was always a fire, a zeal, a cause that people took a risk to make real. But it’s common for organizations to become victims of their own success. With so much to keep track of and with so many people who joined for different reasons than those at the beginning, it becomes hard to remain clear on what the organization does and why and how it does it. Under these conditions, the unconscious, default vision for both the organization and its people is “keep what we like and get more of it.” Together they spin in circles.

Relationship #2: “We can do it! You can help.”

When organizational clarity is high, the organization has a compelling discipleship vision and a robust capacity to form believers accordingly. Yet it needs volunteers to make the machine run, so leaders recruit people to fill slots to keep producing. However, when personal clarity is low, individuals in the organization essentially become part cogs in the machine, part products that the organization manufactures. They are passive in the process even if they are busily involved with it.

Some individuals may resist the organization’s vision because it threatens to upset the place, people, and programs they hold dear. Some like the vision in principle but keep their distance in practice. Many, however, wholeheartedly embrace the organization’s vision as their own, which is exactly what leaders hope will happen.

Unfortunately, when people confuse the organization’s calling with their personal calling, over time they frequently lose interest, lose faith, or lose heart. They joined the organization’s cause by filling a slot where volunteers are needed, because they have been persuaded that it is what Christ wants them to do. But in time they get restless because they come to feel like a square peg in a round hole or burned out because they don’t get fueled and impassioned by what they are doing.

Others are more content with their service. They get acknowledged and rewarded for serving in the same volunteer role for 20 or 30 years. But sometimes you may wonder, “Have we let this person down? Is it really God’s will for this person to stay in the same function all that time? Or have we kept the person in the place that was convenient for us?”

When organizational clarity is high but personal clarity is low, the organization often unintentionally, unknowingly manipulates people into positions they have no business committing to because they do not accord with their divine design. Or they keep them in positions forever that they can never leave. Volunteers become victims of the organization’s success, and sometimes they flake away feeling used. In the end, the organization is stuck in “direction mode”—that is, because it is so sure of its direction, it is equally sure about how to direct others. Ironically, organizations fail to reach the disciple-making goals they sincerely believe in because they subtly come to count their people more as human resources than as individuals on unique journeys with God.

Relationship #3: “You can do it! We can’t help.”

When organizational clarity is low but personal clarity is high, the organization is blessed with individuals who attempt to bring their passion and personal clarity to the organization. The problem is that the organization’s leaders don’t know how the individual’s dream fits with the organization because it doesn’t know how anything fits. The consistent justification for the activities it does is that it is in the habit of doing them. So leaders are often thrilled at first by the energy and vision of the new person, but the good times don’t last.

For example, the organization may want the leader to channel her talent into a neat, prefabricated box of volunteering. But if the person persists in pursuing the unique vision God gave her and cannot find a home for it in the organization, she will eventually redirect her service, money, and time away from the organization that she used to give there.

Sometimes this happens in the name of being “missional.” An organization sees itself as succeeding when it urges its people to follow their respective callings out into the world, but it provides them no support or equipment to succeed in mission there. It may desire to be a great “sending” church, but its impact isn’t sustained as individuals get exhausted without the help of the body of Christ.

Alternatively, the organization may embrace multiple driven, dynamic leaders, but their visions are incompatible. Like vandals spraying graffiti, they make great art, but they paint where they don’t belong. As each one tries to steer the organization according to their own passion, conflict erupts or else the organization breaks down into disunited, self-contained silos. In all these scenarios, the organization is stuck in “permission mode,” allowing people to function but seeing scant impact because of wasted, contradictory, and unsustained energy.

Relationship #4: “See what we can do together?”

When both organizational and personal clarity are high, the organization functions as an Olympic team. It recruits, trains, and equips people to be world-class leaders, devoted to the same goal of success in obeying the Great Commission. Each individual is a champion, both performing solo and contributing in community in a variety of ways according to their unique talents.

When both personal and organizational clarity share first place, individuals pursuing God’s dream for them and the organization pursuing God’s dream for it are not an either-or choice but a both-and reality. Both individual uniqueness and organizational unity are at a maximum. The organization sees the irreplaceable value of each individual, and the individuals recognize that without the organization, they will not fully live out God’s calling on their lives. Each side is fueled and renewed by the other’s success, an ongoing, upward spiral.

When an organization is in “mobilization mode,” even when God does lead an individual on from the organization, the person isn’t considered to be lost but to be sent. When an organization equally prioritizes clarity for itself and clarity for its people, both realize their calling and the blessing of making an impact that resonates far into the future.

Productive collision

I encountered a great illustration of this principle when one of my daughters studied chemistry. In chemistry, a productive collision occurs when the correct side of one molecule smashes into the correct side of another with enough energy to burst their molecular bonds and re-form into something new. When an oxygen molecule is part of the collision, it releases a great deal of energy. This is called combustion, commonly experienced as fire.

When breakthrough clarity both for an organization and for individuals collide productively, they combine into something much stronger than either of them alone, and they unleash extraordinary energy, power, and movement. In short, when an organization and its people both know their special callings from God, the collision lights a fire for him that cannot be quenched.

> Read more from Kelly.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Kannwischer

Kelly Kannwischer

Kelly has spent her vocational life as a not-for-profit executive, consultant and development professional. Former to becoming the CEO of Younique, Kelly founded OptUp Consulting, served THINK Together as the Chief Engagement Officer, and led Vanguard University as a Vice President and President of the Vanguard University Foundation. Kelly graduated from the University of Virginia and earned her Masters degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is married to Rev. Dr. Richard Kannwischer and is the proud mother of Danica (age 15) and Ashby (age 13).

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leading Your Team to Work Together Part Two: Culture

How do you help your staff work together as a true team, not just a collection of individuals?

Mention the word “team” and most people think in context of a sports activity. That may be the primary association with a team – a group of people we observe or cheer for, but in some way, everyone works together with others to achieve a goal: families, schools, businesses, non-profits – these are all teams.

Your church staff is a team as well. Are your leaders functioning in unison as a team or operating individually as a collection of individuals?

When you are part of a team, you’re not giving up your individual goals or sacrificing your personal success. Instead, team members set their sights on an even higher goal in order to magnify greater success.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – WORK RULES! by Laszlo Bock

From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work-and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries-including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history’s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into principles that are easy to put into action, whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands.

WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Culture can be described as the operationalizing of an organization’s values. Culture guides employee decisions about both technical decisions and how they interact with others. Good culture creates an internal coherence in actions taken by a very diverse group of employees.

A strong, vibrant culture stimulates people to both be and do their very best and reach the highest goals. Leaders point the way forward, but they invite meaningful participation from every person at all levels of the organization

Culture is the DNA of the organization and is in large part created by the founders – not by their words so much as their actions.

Once youve chosen to think and act like a founder, your next decision is about what kind of culture you want to create. What are the beliefs you have about your people, and do you have the courage to treat people the way your beliefs suggest?

Google has three defining aspects of their culture: mission, transparency, and voice.

A mission that matters

Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – is the first cornerstone of their culture.

This kind of mission gives individuals’ work meaning, because it is a moral rather than a business goal. The most powerful movements in history have had moral motivations, whether they were quests for independence or equal rights.

If you believe people are good, you must be unafraid to share information with them.

Transparency is the second cornerstone of Google’s culture.

Assume that all information can be shared with the team, instead of assuming that no information can be shared. Restricting information should be conscious effort, and you’d better have a good reason for do so. The benefit of such openness is that everyone in the organization knows what’s going on.

All of us want control over our own destinies.

Voice is the third cornerstone of Google’s culture.

Voice means giving employees a real say in how the organization is run. Either you believe people are good and you welcome their input, or you don’t. For many organizations this is terrifying, but it is the only way to live in adherence to your values.

The case for finding a compelling mission, being transparent, and giving your people voice is in part a pragmatic one. The growing global cadre of talented, mobile, motivated professionals and entrepreneurs demand these kinds of environments. Over the coming decades the most gifted, hardest working, people on the planet will gravitate to places where they can do meaningful work and help shape the destiny of their organizations. But the case is also a moral one, rooted in the simplest maxim of all: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Laszlo Bock, Work Rules!

A NEXT STEP

For your next team meeting, create three chart tablets, titling them Mission, Transparency, and Voice.

For the first, write down your church’s mission, a clear and concise statement that defines what your church is ultimately supposed to be doing. Ask each team member to reflect on how they are contributing to the mission. Ask them to list areas where they are struggling, and have the team provide ideas and support in these areas.

For the second, discuss the level of transparency in your organization. On a scale of 1 (nobody knows anything) to 10 (our default is to be a totally open and transparent organization), where does your organization fall? Come to a group consensus about what level of transparency is important and how to improve your transparency over the next three months. Schedule a date three months from now to review this exercise.

For the third, discuss the level of voice in your organization. On a scale of 1 (team input is not welcome) to 10 (team input is welcome and expected), where does your organization fall? Come to a group consensus about improving the voice of team members over the next three months. Schedule a date three months from now to review this exercise.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 60-2, released February 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What 2017’s Most Popular Tweets Reveal About Our Culture

There are many ways to gain a quick snapshot into culture. One of the more revealing ways is to look at what has trended – or is trending – on Twitter. So for a crash course in all things “now,” here is a sampling of Twitter’s most popular tweets and accounts of 2017:

Most retweeted tweets:

1. The Wendy’s chicken nugget challenge
2. Barack Obama’s Charlottesville response
3. Pennsylvania State University raises money for Houston
4. Ariana Grande responds to the Manchester concert shooting
5. President Obama’s last “thankful” tweet as POTUS

Most tweeted about celebrities:

1. K-pop group @BTS_twt
2. South Korean record label @pledis_17
3. Singer @Camila_Cabello

Most tweeted about elected world leaders:

1. President Donald Trump @RealDonaldTrump
2. Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India @narendramodi
3. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro @NicolasMaduro

Most tweeted about TV shows (US-only):

1. Game of Thrones
2. Stranger Things
3. Big Brother
4. 13 Reasons Why
5. Saturday Night Live
6. The Walking Dead
7. Grey’s Anatomy
8. The Voice
9. Supernatural
10. Pretty Little Liars

Most tweeted about movies (US-only):

1. Wonder Woman
2. La La Land
3. Dunkirk
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
5. Justice League
6. It
7. Beauty and the Beast
8. Thor: Ragnarok
9. Black Panther
10. Fifty Shades Darker

Most tweeted activism hashtags (US-only):

1. #Resist
2. #MAGA
3. #ImpeachTrump
4. #TrumpTrain
5. #WomensMarch
6. #NotMyPresident
7. #BlackLivesMatter
8. #NoDAPL
9. #TakeAKnee
10. #BoycottNFL

Now, ready for your homework? If any of these made you feel clueless, put Google to work and catch up.

It’s the world in which you live.

Read more from James Emery White.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Fine-Tune Your Team’s Vocabulary to Shape a Creative Culture

To  change attitudes and behaviors, it helps first to change the vernacular.   – David and Tom Kelley, IDEO

Language is the crystallization of thought. But the words we choose do more than just reflect our thought patterns—they shape them. What we say—and how we say it—can deeply affect a company’s culture. To spark innovation, it helps to influence the dialogue around new ideas.

David and Tom Kelley are the founders and partners in IDEO, one of the world’s leading innovation and design firms. According to the Kelley’s, IDEO’s favorite antidote to negative speech patterns is the phrase “How might we…?”  It was introduced to them by Charles Warren, now salesforce.com’s senior vice president of product design, as an optimistic way of seeking out new possibilities in the world. In a matter of weeks, it went viral at their firm and it’s stuck ever since. In three disarmingly simple words, it captures much of IDEO’s perspective on creative groups:

  • The “how” suggests that improvement is always possible. The only question remain­ing is how you will find success.
  • The word “mighttemporarily lowers the bar a little. It allows you to consider wild or improbable ideas instead of self-editing from the very beginning, giving you more chance of a breakthrough.
  • And the “weestablishes own­ership of the challenge, making it clear that not only will it be a group effort, but it will be our group.

Using this phrase is not just a matter of semantics. Thoughts become words, and words become deeds. If you get the language right, it affects behavior.

Defenders of the status quo often say, “We’ve always done it this way” or “Nobody does it like that.” With a series of “why” questions, an eight-year-old could disarm such defenses.

But adults sometimes forget the simple power of words.

Try fine-tuning your group’s vocabulary, and see the positive effect it has on your culture.

 

Adapted from Creative Confidence, by David and Tom Kelley.


Would you like help in fine-tuning your team’s vocabulary? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Cultural Relevance Demands Church Response

Ministry in the local church has changed.

My reference isn’t to 150-200 years ago, church has changed dramatically in the last 25 years. Current culture has transformed so much that if we don’t change accordingly, we’ll lose credibility as spiritual leaders.

The gospel of Jesus Christ never changes. (John 3:1-21) However, our perspective, our leadership lens needs to change. We need to see things differently in order to reach people.

Here are five ways to see how culture has changed and how we might respond and lead our churches differently:

 

1) Options rule.

My wife Patti recently asked me to go to the grocery store to pick up some chips and salsa. I stood there absolutely paralyzed by the 17 choices of salsa! I had no idea what brand, what kind, or how hot! But this is the expectation. Options! Further, “New and Improved” is apparently essential.

People expect options today, and new and improved options tomorrow. They want multiple service times. They want your sermons online so when they can’t attend, they watch the service from their hotel, lake house or wherever. They want lots of choices for small groups, multiple ways to give financially, options for where to sit if their baby is crying, and they want it all to work.

The worthwhile challenge is to deliver options while remaining focused as a church. Since busyness kills the church, this means offering a very streamlined number of ministries and methods, but with several ways for people to engage each one.

2) Digital is now.

It’s not uncommon for a church to operate weeks, months, even years behind in terms of technology, current events, social media, and the arts.

Your congregation is accustomed to instantaneous access to what is happening live and real time around them. If we let Google beat us to the punch on everything, the world wins.

Our great challenge is to deliver unchanging biblical truth in a way that is fresh, current and speaks to their lives with a sense of immediate connection. The goal is to merge Holy Spirit redemption with high speed relevance.

3) Tradition is out.

People no longer attend church because it’s Sunday. Work, travel, kids sports and leisure trump church at the drop of a hat. You can call people uncommitted, but instead, I suggest that times have changed. Many of your most committed people attend 2-3 times a month and that takes effort on their part.

Our leadership challenge is to capture the hearts of people with worthwhile vision and meeting real needs that translate to changed lives, and not become frustrated by attendance patterns.

4) Green is Godly.

I’m not saying people are looking to see if your church recycles. (Although they might.) Green is bigger than that. It’s about the way you see the world, and how you view the future. As Christians we understand eternity and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. And we should! The unchurched want to know what we are doing to make a difference today. They want to know what are we doing about compassion, justice and the next generation.

Our challenge is to help connect the power of eternity with our practices today so the people see God at work in their daily lives.

5) Faith inspires.

Far more than our cool lights, awesome bands, and fantastic children’s ministry, people want to see if we believe.

In the 80’s you could fill a church with great preaching, in the 90’s you could do the same with amazing worship. Today, in a world that is confused, people are searching for what matters and want to find someone who cares. When genuine faith is backed by love, it provides hope. That inspires people, it helps them believe. They want to be part of that.

Deep down they know they don’t have the answers, but will no longer settle for a polished theological treatise covered in biblical brilliance. They want to know if we believe what we say enough to truly live it. They want to see faith in action. That is our wonderful challenge.

Are you up for the challenge?

> Read more from Dan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 
comment_post_ID); ?> It is a good idea to to know how christians should be good leaders. Thanks
 
— Okello.moses
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Speaking the Truth in Love to the Culture

The Bible says, in John 7:13, “No one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public” (NLT). Even some of history’s greatest spokespeople for the gospel have struggled in their resolve to proclaim the truth boldly. The Bible says in Acts 18:9, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent’” (NIV).

In our current cultural climate, it’s more intimidating than ever to stand up for biblical truths that are seen as politically incorrect. And in order to do so, courageously, believers need a thorough understanding of the world that is framed by Scripture.

Everyone thinks about the world through a particular lens, or filter. We refer to this filter as someone’s “worldview.” And in our post-Christian culture, most Christians have a non-Christian worldview. In other words, a big part of our preaching assignment is helping our listeners to see the world through the lens of a biblical worldview.

Our task is not necessarily to shape the specific opinions that people should have on a particular topic, unless the Bible directly and clearly addresses it. Instead, our job is to present a biblical worldview that will collide with and correct every other, contradictory worldview held by people who are attempting to follow Jesus.

Let me give you some examples of the kinds of worldviews held by the people to whom you preach regularly…

Materialism

Materialism is the worldview that all that matters is the physical, material world. Therefore, what matters most is money and the acquiring of possessions. When believers fall into the trap of materialism, economics trumps everything else. It determines how they vote, act, and think. But the Jesus said, in Luke 12:15, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (MSG). In other words, your valuables don’t determine your value.

Hedonism

Hedonism is the philosophy that whatever feels good must be good. In materialism, money is God. In hedonism, pleasure is God. With hedonism, the whole goal of life is to be happy, to have fun, and to be comfortable. But happiness is simply a byproduct of living the purpose you were created for. Happiness was never meant to be your primary goal in life. But the Bible says in Proverbs 21:17 that “the pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied” (MSG).

Individualism

Individualism says, “I’m god.” It’s a me-first mentality. America was built on rugged individualism. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it and nobody can tell me not to do it. Today that has evolved into the culture of narcissism. But God didn’t create you to live for you. You were made for something far, far bigger than yourself. Individualism destroys marriages and relationships. It causes us to make selfish, destructive decisions. Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT).

Very few leaders in our culture are calling people to self-denial, but it’s part of courageously proclaiming the truth to people as you preach.

Collectivism

Collectivism is also called socialism. Socialism is an anti-Christian worldview that says government is god. It basically says government should control everything. There’s nothing wrong with government. Government is a good thing. In fact, it was invented by God. But people who don’t know God make government god.

What I’ve discovered while speaking in all kinds of cultural forums is this: Politics is the religion of people who don’t know God. Again, there’s nothing wrong with politics, but politics is not the savior. If you think any politician is going to be your savior, you’re going to be deeply disappointed. The Bible says there are three purposes of government: to protect freedom, to insure justice, and to preserve peace.

Jesus explained the limited role of government in Matthew 22:21 when he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but give to God what belongs to God” (NLT). I should give my government my respect, my taxes, and my obedience to the law of the land.

By the way, the Bible says give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Who is Caesar in a democracy? We don’t have a king or a caesar. We don’t have a dictator. In a democracy, the voters are Caesar. The power in America does not reside with the judicial branch or the legislative branch or the executive branch. It resides with the people who elect politicians to office.

Anytime you are preaching to Christians, you are preaching to people with dual citizenship. I’m a citizen of the United States but I’m also a citizen of heaven. And my greater loyalty is to God, not to government. And if there is difference between God and government, there’s no question which one I’m going to side with. A biblical worldview rebukes any belief that God and country are equally important.

We have the crumbling of our culture, crisis in our schools, controversies in our courts, corruption in our businesses, chaos in our government, carnality in our churches, confusion in our families, and conflicts in our personal lives.

What is the biblical worldview? That’s why God gave us the Bible, which gives to us a complete picture of God, of humanity, and of eternity.

When it comes to your preaching, there are plenty of things in the Bible that don’t upset anyone. And you don’t need extra courage to preach about those things. For instance the Bible says you must help the poor, care for the sick, tell the truth and be fair, respect everyone, love everybody, and take care of the environment.

But there are three aspects of the Christian worldview that are hated by this world. And most Christians clam up and shut up because they’re afraid to stand up in the areas that are controversial. These three areas are…

1. The sanctity of life

The sanctity of life tells us that God has a purpose for every unborn baby. God planned your life before you were born. In fact, God planned your life before your parents were born. The Christian worldview informs us that before God created the universe, he thought of you. There are accidental parents but there are no accidental babies. There are illegitimate parents but there are no illegitimate babies. God is bigger than human mistakes. God is bigger than human sin.

We are responsible to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. And the people in our culture least capable of speaking up for themselves are the unborn – the almost sixty million Americans who would be here if they hadn’t been aborted. Every life is precious.

2. The sanctity of sex

The sanctity of sex teaches us that sex only for marriage. Sex was God’s idea, and he created sex to bond a husband and wife together. I told you a couple weeks ago that when a man and a woman have sex together it releases oxytocin in both of them. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical that binds a husband and wife together. It enhances emotional commitment. When a woman nurses a baby it releases oxytocin in both the mom and in the baby. It is a bonding agent.

The fact that God designed sex for the bonding of a husband and wife is the reason why there’s no such thing as casual sex. When you have casual sex, it releases oxytocin in you, which is a bonding element, and that’s why people get hurt. When people are cheated on, it bothers them. Why? Because it’s not just physical. It’s emotional and spiritual.

Sex isn’t bad. Sex isn’t dirty. Sex isn’t wrong. Sex is holy. And the sanctity of sex is that God designed it for the creation of all of us, and to bring husbands and wives together, and to be a model of the union between Christ and the church. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4 that “Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery” (TEV).

God’s instructions have never changed. Premarital sex is unacceptable to God. It always has been; it always will be. Living together without getting married and the commitment of marriage and the blessing of God is unacceptable to God. It always has been; it always will be. Adultery is unacceptable to God. It always has been; it always will be.

Pornography and the objectification of a man’s or a woman’s body is unacceptable to God. It always has been; it always will be. Same-sex sex is unacceptable to God. It always has been; it always will be. Notice I said same-sex sex, not same-sex attraction. Attraction is not sin; action is. You can’t control all of your attractions, but you can control all of your actions.

If you’re guilty of any of these sins, the church is for you because we’re all forgiven sinners. You can find forgiveness through a relationship with Jesus and healing in the context of a loving and accepting church family.

3. The sanctity of marriage

The Bible is very clear that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. That is God’s intended, original design. What about all the polygamy in the Bible? The Bible doesn’t approve of everything that the Bible reports. It’s hard to find a book that reports more violence, incest, rape, molestation, murder, jealousy, and greed. But we call it the Holy Bible because it tells the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Matthew 19:4-6 says, “Jesus answered, “Don’t you know that in the beginning the Creator made a man and a woman? That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together” (CEV).

There are many issues in life where people of good will can disagree. There is no healthcare plan in the Bible, so Christians can disagree on that. There is no defense plan in the Bible, so Christians can disagree on that. There is no economic recovery plan in the Bible, so Christians can disagree on that. But when it comes to the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctity of sex – these are nonnegotiable.

I never have and never will endorse a candidate. I want to minister to both sides of the aisle. I have friends who are Democrats and I have friends who are Republicans and I’m for my friends. Nobody gets it right all the time. So I would advise against preaching, as though you’re speaking for the Bible, on issues that the Bible doesn’t directly deal with. But you should be preaching the truth of the Bible courageously to call Christians to adopt a biblical worldview.

You don’t need to apologize for voting for a Christian worldview, which stands up for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, and the sanctity of marriage. Preach so as to move people to accept God’s Word as their first and final authority. And preach God’s truth even when it is unpopular, fearing God’s disapproval more than the disapproval of people.

If you don’t know what the Word says, check out Foundations. Foundations is the course at Saddleback Church, written by Pastor Tom Holladay and by my wife, Kay, that teaches you what God says about the Bible, about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, about the second coming, about heaven and hell, about salvation and creation and how to grow, and what the Bible says about good and evil.

The rewards of standing courageously for the truth will last forever. Hebrews 10:35 (TEV) says, “Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward.” That reward is far greater than any disapproval you might have to put up with.

> Read more from Rick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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You Are What You Do: How Process Drives Culture

In organizations I have coached over the years, there is a common belief that business processes and work culture are separate, distinct things. While they are indeed different sides of a coin, I believe they are inextricably related. In fact, I believe they both affect each other, in a sort of chicken-and-egg relationship.

One question many leaders ask is, “How do I improve the culture?” Asking this question without also looking at your processes may not yield the right answer. And before we can dig into how to improve our processes or culture, we must define what we mean by those terms.

Defining the Terms

A process is a series of steps executed by people to achieve a result. Often times, those steps have dependencies on each other or on time. For example, when making coffee, it is important to put the coffee in the filter, then turn on the flow of water. To do it backwards creates a mess, not coffee. In addition, some of the coffee-making steps have a dependency on time. It is not a good idea to finish all the steps of making coffee the night before. The coffee gets cold and stale overnight.

Work culture is the environment, communication, and behaviors that intrinsically reward (or don’t) the processes we want. Of course, the concept of culture is tougher to define. It is even more difficult to define your specific work culture. You might hear comments like ‘people are so nice here’ or ‘the culture is so great,  it’s like family’ or ‘the work was fine, but I couldn’t stand the culture’. What do your people do or say that gets them more freedom, more respect, a pat on the back, a round of applause at the staff meeting? That is your culture, regardless of whether that is what you want it to be.

Is Your Leadership Reinforcing the Culture You Want?

Because it is so difficult to define culture, it is extremely challenging to improve it directly. Rather than chasing this enigma, I suggest improving the processes we use to get work done and focus on the cultural implications that result. When people think of process improvement, the first idea is making something more efficient and trimming a few minutes off a task. While that can be helpful, I am talking more about focusing on the leadership and communication around processes.

Does the way you lead processes create the culture you want? If so, you are way ahead of the game — keep it up! Here are a few examples of inconsistencies I have seen over the years.

  • Safety is #1. I worked in a refinery years ago to improve safety processes and culture. Their safety record was pretty poor and they were suitably concerned. They were doing all the typical things, like hanging up posters touting safety, starting meetings with a safety discussion, even checking workers’ protective equipment and spending money to upgrade it. However, these processes were not creating the desired result because their leadership decisions did not reinforce the ‘safety is #1’ idea. In fact, the joke among the staff was, “Safety is number one, right after production and profit.” This was the result of leaders in the organization routinely making decisions to put people at risk in the name of keeping the machines running. Each decision seemed reasonable or even innocuous on its own, but the theme created a culture that rewarded putting people at risk for production.
  • We hire creative self-starters. Go online and read job postings and you will find an abundance of descriptions of how they want to hire self starters, independent workers, disciplined people, and on and on. That sounds great. Do those organizations then reinforce those qualities, or stifle them through approvals, bureaucracy, punishing mistakes, or rewarding ‘getting it right’? Creativity and the like inherently mean making mistakes and taking risks that sometimes don’t pay off. If we punish mistakes and reward perfection, then we are likely saying one thing and culturally reinforcing the opposite.
  • I don’t micromanage. Staff and managers alike do not enjoy an environment of micromanagement where every move requires approval and checking. I recently coached a church whose executive leader was very proud he was not ‘one of those’ micromanagers. He gave his staff quite a bit of freedom and autonomy, which are good things. However, in his desire to give freedom, he did not give direction or set expectations. As a result, the staff generally felt unsupported and uncared for.

In these three examples, the leaders all meant well, but did not create the culture they intended. Their leadership decisions and communication created the opposite culture. Not only was that culture not as strong as they wished, it created confusion in the staff with the mixed messages.

Your Next Move

Next time you think about your leadership decisions, ask yourself if your communication and behavior are reinforcing the culture you want or not. If you have a trusted advisor, ask their advice on this subject, since it is tough to have this level of self-awareness.

Read more from Dave.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Bair

Dave brings a unique talent for system and process implementation to the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder and also leads our team of coaches. His history of consulting with major corporations to implement change has enabled him to build an impressive coaching framework to guide church leaders towards operational effectiveness. Dave and his wife of many years have a daughter, studying chemistry in college, and a son in high school who's passions include saxophone and drums. In addition for finding Dave at DaveBair.co you may occasionally spot him piloting his hot air ballon in the western sky.

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Clarity Process

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Why Changing Strategy Without Changing Culture Changes Nothing

I see it almost everywhere I work with leadership teams. Let me tell you what it is and what you should be doing differently. And I will cite two great HBR articles that are helpful. (For more about HBR go here.)

Before I name the mistake, let me describe how it pops up.

You want to move ahead so you brainstorm a bit, read the latest books, review all the models, attend a conference or watch some videos. Then draft the new strategy, delegate responsibilities,  and launch the new plan.

And in six months you are…

  • Spinning Your Wheels. Lots of vision and planning is done, and even some keenly designed initiatives, but you seem to be spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. Why?
  • Driving on the Wrong Track. You get off to a fast start, launch an initiative, and soon leaders start moving, building teams and creating materials … but there is confusion. Why is this not working? You’re going somewhere — but where?
  • Having a Multiple-Vehicle Accident. Your entrepreneurial team starts launching their own version of the vision, building and designing what works for them, running into one another as they fight for people, recognition, platform and resources. Soon there’s a 6-leader pileup.

These leaders had great strategies, good people and ample resources. But they kept failing. What needed to change?

Culture.

When you change your strategy without changing your culture, you change NOTHING! Change is resisted at every bend. Here are ten reasons why.

So why amplify this reality by putting new wine in old wine skins? Or, to stick with our racing metaphor, we strap a formula-one engine to a NASCAR chassis.  It makes a lot of noise and covers a lot of ground – but nothing really changes.

  • A university creates online programming to make more content available – but they don’t change delivery methods, relying on a teacher-centered model instead of a learner-centered approach.
  • A church wants a new outreach strategy and launches new “missional communities,” but the congregation does not have a missional mindset, and they really don’t understand the people they are trying to reach.
  • A business hires phone “consultants” for that “personal touch” to improve customer service. But actually what the customer wants is speedy ordering, distinctive choices and an easy internet-based return policy – they do not need a nice phone conversation.

In the popular Lean Start-Up Movement, entrepreneurs re-think the way we launch a venture (or ministry or educational center, etc.). Listen to Steve Blank on Lean Start-ups:

…it favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development. Although the methodology is just a few years old, its concepts—such as “minimum viable product” and “pivoting”—have quickly taken root in the start-up world, and business schools have already begun adapting their curricula to teach them.

This approach is working because it forces you to actually understand the culture you are trying to reach, and the culture you are creating in your own camp.

It is not enough to change a strategy or talk about innovation. Cultures must change. I spend lots of time helping teams and leaders make progress here. Here are some questions that drive that process.

  • What defines us now – who are we really?
  • Where do we want to go and why?
  • What exits in the new culture we want to create that is absent now?
  • What kind of leaders do we need to become to make this transition?
  • What environments, tools and processes need to be created (or removed) in order to move toward the future?
  • Do we have/can we get the right people?
  • What actual steps are required and who is responsible for each one?
  • How do we know we are making progress?
  • How hard are we willing to work to change our culture?

Leaders are in the culture-making business. Before you take the “big splash” approach again, you might evaluate the culture…inside and out. That means changing how you view potential leaders, the systems you design, the people you recruit or hire, the process (not just the end result) of how you develop strategy, and whether you become learners rather than teachers.

So what’s in your culture?

What will it take for a cultural makeover?

What are your biggest challenges in culture shaping and culture changing?

>> Read more from Bill here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Donahue

Bill’s vision is: “Resourcing life-changing leaders for world-changing influence.” Leaders and their teams need a clear personal vision and a transformational team strategy. This requires work in 3 key areas: Maximize Leadership Capacity, Sharpen Mission Clarity & Build Transformational Community. Bill has leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit arena. After working for P&G in New York and PNC Corp. in Philadelphia, Bill was Director of Leader Development & Group Life for the Willow Creek Church & Association where he created leadership strategies and events for over 10,000 leaders on 6 continents in over 30 countries.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Common Mistakes Pastors Make

I was honored to discuss leadership on a panel at the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference with Greg Matte, Rodney Woo, and Jack Graham. People submitted questions beforehand, and one of the questions that Pastor Greg sent my way was “What are the most common mistakes pastors make?” Here are three:

1. NOT OFFERING CLARITY

Marcus Buckingham said, “Clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.” Wise church leaders clarify, guard, and preach the essentials over and over again.

Most importantly, pastors must be clear on the theology that serves as the foundation for the church. Without theological clarity, churches will drift from the faith that was delivered once and for all to the saints (Jude 3). Without continually reminding people of the gospel, a church will no longer stand on the strong foundation of the faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Or as D. A. Carson has stated, “To assume the gospel in one generation is to lose it in the next.”

Pastors must also be continually clear on the ministry philosophy and direction of the church. People long to have a direction painted for them, to see how all that the church does is built on the theology and philosophy of ministry that drives the church. Pastors who fail to offer directional clarity leave a massive vacuum of leadership. Consequently, others will step in with competing visions of what the church should be and do, and the church will move in a plethora of directions, unsure of who she really is.

2. UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF CULTURE

By culture, I am not referring to the ethnic or socio-economic mix in the church (though this is important too). I am referring to the shared values and beliefs that undergird all the church does. Peter Drucker is credited for famously saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He was not diminishing the importance of a wise strategy, but he was stating the overpowering strength of culture on an organization.

If a church leader attempts to implement a strategy without first addressing the culture, if the two are in conflict with one another, the strategy is doomed before it even launches. Culture will win. And while the doctrinal confession in a church is absolutely critical, if the culture is in conflict with the confession, the culture will trump the confession.

For example… A church has the doctrinal confession that all believers are priests and ministers because Jesus’ sacrificial death for us tore the veil of separation and His Spirit has empowered all believers. But that same church has a long-standing culture that the “real ministers” are the professional clergy—that whenever a need arises, it lands on a staff member’s plate. Thus, when a tragedy occurs or someone needs counseling, it is the culture that drives the behavior, not the doctrinal confession.

Wise church leaders will continually check the culture and, by God’s grace, seek to bring it into deep alignment with the theology and ministry philosophy of the church.

3. SWITCHING STRATEGIES TOO FREQUENTLY

Many churches never realize the full potential of their plans or strategies because they switch them too frequently. They abandon their direction for a new direction and confuse the people as to where the church is really headed. Switching strategies too frequently is really a symptom of not possessing or providing clarity and not having a culture that is deeply connected to the theology and philosophy of the church. Continually switching strategies will harm the overall effectiveness of the pastor’s leadership.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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COMMENTS

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jim mcfarland — 03/23/14 7:13 pm

I would also suggest Culture eats Strategy for lunch, dinner and the midnight snack! Unfortunately the emphasis on excellence and quality in ministry execution robs the Eph 4 priesthood of their God directed ministry because staff need to show a competitive product come Sunday. That's what we hired them for and if the unpaid staff fall short, fall off or fall flat, well...ya get what ya pay for!

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Clarity Process

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Churches Need to Offer What Their Community Needs

I hope you are ready to jump into some controversy with me today because I’m going to talk about things that many Christians (and many “church architects”) take personally and seriously…what a church “should” look like. But, I may surprise you with the analysis if you think you know where I’m heading because at Visioneering Studios, we are challenging the way people think about the purpose and design of church facilities from the ground up.

I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. Let’s start with the definition of “church”. Webster’s defines “church” as, “1) a group of Christians; any group professing Christian doctrine or belief; 2) a place for public (especially Christian) worship.” Is this definition in alignment with the Biblical definition of “church”? The Greek word for church is “ekklesia”, which means “that which is called out,” and that is the only word for Church in the whole Bible (and it is only used in the New Testament). Obviously this is talking about the people who have been “called out” and become followers of Jesus. Jesus even said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Wherever followers of Christ gather together there is the church. So, how did we get so confused and hung up on the form and structure of a building that we refer to as the “church” and that to most people, especially non-Christians, is seen as THE church? Jesus’ first “church” services took place on hillsides or beside lakes while he spoke from a boat. The disciples first “church” service (the day of Pentecost) took place in the temple court. First century churches met in houses and wherever there was room for people to gather.

V923-1

Clockwise from top left – St. Peters, God’s Creation, Traditional Church, Metal Box

Somewhere along the way “churches” started to become buildings, and they became “sacred” spaces that required design of a certain type. I can stand amazed in front of St. Peter’s in Rome or any number of other cathedrals throughout the world and feel staggeringly overwhelmed at the intricacy and details involved in those structures, but I can also stand awestruck in a forest or on a beach and wonder about the miracle of God’s creation. I can sit in a “traditional” church complete with stained glass, steeple, and pews and be lifted up before God’s throne in worship, but I can also sit in a pre-engineered metal warehouse with a small group of believers who have scraped together all they had to build their first building and be touched to my soul by a stirring message delivered from a down-to-earth preacher.

What we all have to realize is that “traditional” or “contemporary” are just man-made concepts that are totally unrelated to salvation. It may seem patently obvious to state it this way, but Jesus didn’t sit in a pew or a theater seat. He didn’t sing from a hymnal while a pipe organ played or sing with words on a screen while a band rocked out. He didn’t wear a suit and tie or a t-shirt and shorts. He didn’t preach in a church with stained glass windows and a steeple, or in a church with a coffee shop and a video venue.

The message of the Bible is timeless, but the presentation of the message is cultural. Jesus reached people where they were in that day and time in a method and in a location that they could be comfortable and relate to (see John 4:4-26 about the Samaritan woman at the well). I strongly believe that if Jesus was walking around in America today He would be using technology, music, buildings, and everything else at His disposal as tools to reach people where they are.

V923-2

Northside Christian Church – Spring, TX. Design by Visioneering Studios. Photo by G. Lyon Photography.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with traditional buildings, or pipe organs, or hymnals, but I would ask you to look in your heart and ask yourself if your church is being as effective as they could be in reaching your community and the unchurched in today’s culture using methods and facility prototypes created hundreds of years ago. Would you like your doctor to use leeches and other medical “technology” of a few hundred years ago to treat you today? I wouldn’t, which is why I think it is important to examine the methods we use to “treat” those in need of the ultimate healing. What type of places and buildings do people choose to go to spend their free time? What type of music do people choose to listen to on their iPods? Churches need to be offering their community what their community needs. The church facility can be a 7-day-a-week Christ-centered community instead of a 2-hour-a-week Christian insider’s club.

Don’t ever compromise the message. Don’t ever change the story of salvation. But, maybe it’s time to look at the method and environment where that message is shared. Is it more important to keep things they way they’ve always been because the people who are already “saved” and are already inside the walls of the church like it that way? Or is it better to find out what will reach those outside of the walls and make them comfortable stepping foot inside the doors of your church even if it makes the “insiders” uncomfortable? Are you willing to sacrifice your comfort to reach out to others? Isn’t that why the church exists? All I’m asking is for you to think about it.

Be intentional.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Forehand

I am the national Vice President of Operations for Visioneering Studios, an architectural, urban planning, construction, design, and development firm based out of Irvine, California with other offices in Phoenix, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and Charlotte (which is where I’m located). Every day is an incredible journey and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some of the most dynamic and fastest growing churches in the country as well as spend time with incredible people both as coworkers, clients, and friends.

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COMMENTS

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Mac — 09/24/14 9:11 pm

Doesn't the church exist to comfort the souls and consciences of believers? New or old design the focus should be Christ. A good test for this is to invite a group of non-believers [unchurched] as a focus group....show them the designs of churches and have them give their thoughts opinions to questions like this: + What type of business/organization do you think belongs in this place? + What is the first thing you think of when seeing this place? + This facility is designed to be a Christian church....What other uses would you imagine taking place here? Their answers should be enough to tell you how best to design a building that will be purposeful in delivering the central message of Christ-Crucified.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.