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

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.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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