The One Most Critical Factor for a Truly Healthy Church Culture

How can you protect and grow your church culture without having to be negative all the time?

Either you will manage your culture, or it will manage you.

Simply defined, culture is the way people think and act.

Every organization has a culture, which either works for you or against you – and it can make the difference between success and failure. Managing the organizational culture so that leaders, managers, and team members think and act in the manner necessary to achieve desired results has never mattered more.

When most organizations try to improve their culture, they focus on the negative aspects, and try to fix them. This sounds reasonable, but the opposite approach is much more successful. You may find greater success in identifying a few positive attributes within your culture that are connected directly to your identity and mission. Focus on them and find ways to accelerate and extend them throughout the organization.

Leaders model culture by consistent personal example.

THE QUICK SUMMARY –The Culture Engine, by S. Chris Edmonds

The Culture Engine shows leaders how to create a high performing, values aligned culture through the creation of an organizational constitution. With practical step-by-step guidance, readers learn how to define their organization’s culture, delineate the behaviors that contribute to greater performance and greater engagement, and draft a document that codifies those behaviors into a constitution that guides behavior towards an ideal: a safe, inspiring workplace. The discussion focuses on people, including who should be involved at the outset and how to engage employees from start to finish, while examples of effective constitutions provide guidance toward drafting a document that can actualize an organization’s potential.

Culture drives everything that happens in an organization day-to-day, including focus, priorities, and the treatment of employees and customers. A great culture drives great performance, and can help attract and retain great talent. But a great culture isn’t something that evolves naturally. The Culture Engine is a guide to strategically planning a culture by compiling the company’s guiding principles and behaviors into an organizational constitution.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

As is the case in almost every organizational component, culture begins at the top – with the leader’s personal culture.

Leaders shape the way people think and behave—leaders are viewed by others as role models, and employees look around to see if their behavior is consistent with the organization’s espoused values and philosophy.

Leaders set the agenda. Leaders influence the organization’s culture and in turn the long-term effectiveness of the organization. Leaders and managers set the context within which organizational members strive for excellence and work together to achieve organizational goals.

The credibility and success of any culture improvements at your organization will depend on the degree to which you, as the culture champion, are consistently modeling the desired values and behaviors.

Leaders are in charge of an organization’s culture. Refining or tweaking your team’s or organization’s current culture means that you will be the banner carrier for your organizational constitution.

Here’s what leaders must do:

  1. You are ready to embrace the leader’s responsibility to be a proactive champion of your desired culture.
  2. You’ll need to invest significant time and energy communicating, modeling, and reinforcing your desired culture.
  3. You’ll need to embrace servant leadership in daily interactions.
  4. You’ll need to promptly and genuinely praise and encourage aligned efforts by team members and teams.
  5. You’ll not be able to simply add these activities to your daily workload; you’ll need to redirect time and energy to culture-champion activities from less important activities.

Chris Edmonds, The Culture Engine

A NEXT STEP

Take the following Culture Effectiveness Assessment (CEA) (from The Culture Engine, p42-43) in order to help you understand the degree to which you, as a team or organizational leader, have clarified your own purpose, values, behaviors, and leadership philosophy.

Your Culture Effectiveness Assessment, like weighing yourself everyday, only tells part of the story. Your scales may tell you you’re gaining weight, but not if you’re gaining muscle. You will need other testing to determine that.

Likewise, your CEA score is just a measurement. Once you have taken it, set it aside, and begin the personal work required to set the standard for improving cultural organization. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What is one immediate action I can take this week to champion healthy culture? (Example: spend 15 minutes one morning prayer walking your buildings)
  2. What is one collaborative moment I can create in the next month to demonstrate and celebrate aligned efforts among our team? (Example: creating a quarterly staff fellowship with awards)
  3. What is one measurable target we can set for the next year that supports the culture we desire to sustain? (Example: every small group member serving in the community at least once)

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 58-3, January 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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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Move Your Organization Through 3 Phases of Cultural Refinement

Is your organization frustrating and lifeless or is it engaging and inspiring?

For many people, descriptors such as “dreary,” “discouraging,” “fear-based,” or “missed promises” describe their organization’s culture.

Leaders don’t want a dreary or frustrating organizational culture but most don’t know what to do about it. They’ve seen inspiring organizations but have never been taught how to create or maintain one.

How does a leader go about creating something that, on one hand, is so important, but, on the other hand, seems so amorphous?

Leaders can build a high performing, values aligned culture through an organizational constitution.

Your organizational constitution describes exactly how its members will engage with each other, outside stakeholders and guests, as members act to fulfill their team or department’s purpose, values, strategies, and goals.

An organizational constitution:

  • outlines your team’s purpose, values, strategies, and goals.
  • paints a vivid picture of success, values, and behaviors.
  • maps out how to work from that picture each day.
  • gives team member’s jobs and roles meaning and clarity.

S. Chris Edmonds, a senior consultant with the Blanchard Group, has a new book entitled The Culture Engine, which answers the question, “How do I fix it?” It provides leaders with a framework for crafting a high performance, values aligned organizational culture. That proven framework is creating, then managing to, an organizational constitution.

Edmonds develops three phases of culture refinement through an organizational constitution – the design phase, the align phase, and the refine phase.

Is an organizational culture right for your team? Evaluate your team’s performance, teamwork, and civility. If they’re not where you’d like them to be, change expectations by looking for more than just performance. Create a work environment built on trust, respect, and dignity for all team leaders and members, and you’ll enjoy greater employee engagement, higher customer service, and higher profits.

>> Download a brief summary of Edmond’s Three Phases here.

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For over ten years, Auxano has been delivering to churches the process described above: the Vision Pathway.

The Vision Pathway is a one-of-a-kind process that provides a framework to deliver unique and comprehensive Vision Clarity for your organization.

We believe God is doing something cosmically significant and locally specific in your church. By engaging in a challenging process of praying, listening, and interacting with your team around certain key questions, it is possible to articulate the unique vision God has for your church and take practical steps to align your church to move toward that vision.

>> Learn more about our Vision Pathway Process.

>> Start a conversation with one of our Navigators.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Jon Pyle — 02/09/15 2:52 pm

As I began to jot notes down about my organization specifically, I think it can become a kind of guiding document that focuses sharply on the "how". It can be a tangible, accessible foundation for everyday organizational reality in different terms than the Vision Proper. Of course, it is a living document that will be saturated with your vision frame (mission, metrics, etc.) and other elements of the Vision Pathway too. Especially when I see a focus on things like values, the constitution can allow you to define them even further and connect them to the operations of the organization. Even your least "big picture" staff/volunteers can grasp and internalize the result of what I interpret Edmonds is going for. It feels very practical. All that to say, I'm not entirely sure! I just ordered the book, so I hope to read through it soon and get a better idea. Thank you for responding.

VRcurator — 02/09/15 2:29 pm

The phrase "organizational constitution" as used by the author, S. Chris Edmonds, captured my attention when I first came across it. The use of terms like values, strategies, goals, and above all clarity, were of great interest to the Auxano team. We are always on the lookout for work by other organizations that supports the Vision Pathway process. We are just diving into the process, but were intrigued enough to want to get it out to the Vision Room readers. I hope to post some follow-up in the days ahead. Jon, after you have had a chance to look at the download, what do you think?

Jon Pyle — 02/06/15 3:10 pm

How does the organizational constitution integrate with the Vision Pathway? Is it the part of zooming down for more detail once your vision is established?

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.