4 Keys to Diagnosing Culture Health
By: Tahe Governor
I came across this excellent article recently and thought it would fit nicely with the collection of blogs I am currently writing. I asked Tahe if he would mind sharing it on my site, and I am thrilled he is contributing. You can find the original post at yaresource.com.
How Are You Feeling?
You ever get the sense you don’t like the way things feel in your ministry or on your team?
Maybe you have excellent team members and a well thought out strategy, but still, something doesn’t feel right? It’s nothing you can point to specifically, but something just feels off.
You could have a culture problem.
Why Culture Matters
Many leaders talk about the importance of culture. Pastor Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands teaches that an organization is built around people, systems, and culture. If an organization isn’t healthy and growing, there is a disconnect somewhere between these three.
People is about recruiting, developing, empowering, and placing the right people in the organization.
Systems are about the structures and processes in place to support, grow, and deliver the vision of the organization.
Culture is the overall feel, mood, norms, and environment of the organization.
Pastor Chris goes on to say that though all are important, culture trumps them all.
Good News and Bad News
Your church has a culture, and your team has a culture. Your culture is either working for you or against you. You can have culture either by decision or default. And when it comes to the culture, there’s good news and bad news.
First, the bad news. The wrong culture can take years to change. Pastor Craig Groeschel has said changing the wrong culture will take two years, and if you can find out a way to do it faster, he’d love to know.
Now, the good news. You can change the wrong culture.
Four Keys to Building Culture
Culture is the product of what we Communicate, Demonstrate, Celebrate, and Tolerate.
Culture begins with what you say. Communicating the values you have and aspire to have will give people language and a clear culture goal.
Though it is important to talk “it,” it’s vital to walk “it.” We, as church leaders, can, unfortunately, be the worst at communicating values we never demonstrate. Changing culture begins with changing you. People are most likely emulating the environment you’re creating.
People will naturally gravitate towards what you celebrate. You can say that what matters most is seeing people’s lives being changed until you’re blue in the face– but if all you ever celebrate is attendance – that’s what your team will take note of.
Whatever you tolerate will dominate. You can communicate, demonstrate, and celebrate the right stuff, but if you tolerate the wrong things, then they will be what will always dominate the culture.
Being Intentional About Culture
It’s essential to see that even Jesus was intentional about building the right culture within His followers.
Communicate – Matthew 5-7; Jesus’ sermon on the mount teaching his followers what the values and ways of the kingdom are.
Demonstrate – Mark 3:14; Jesus called the disciples to be with Him so they would see what He’s like, and He sent them out to do the same.
Celebrate – Luke 10:20; Jesus didn’t want His followers rejoicing in spiritual power, which would have led to pride. Instead, He taught them to celebrate their salvation, which leads to humility.
Tolerate – Matthew 16:23; Jesus wouldn’t allow even wrong mindsets in His disciples. He would deal with it instantly, knowing little problems cause significant dysfunction over time.
One of the most effective ways to provide clarity around building the right culture is core values. The core values themselves are not the culture necessarily, but provide accountability and clarity around what the culture should be. Think of core values as buoys in the ocean or guardrails to a roadway. They mark boundaries and keep the culture in check.
Core values can be both observational (things that are already happening and in place) and aspirational (things you desire to be in place but aren’t yet).
Examples of Core Values
Church of the Highlands
We are faith-filled, big thinking, bet-the-farm risk-takers.
We are all about the “capital C” Church!
We give up things we love for things we love even more.
We wholeheartedly reject the label mega-church.
We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ.
We will lead the way with irrational generosity.
We will laugh hard, loud, and often.
We always bring our best.
We are spiritual contributors, not spiritual consumers.
We will honor Christ and His church with integrity.
Here are some questions to help build values, and move your team or ministry towards the right culture.
1. How would you describe the culture of your team?
2. What would you say are the current values of your team? These can be words (i.e., integrity) or phrases (i.e., presence filled worship) or both.
3. What values are you in lack of that you’d like to see a part of your team?
4. Are you “tolerating” anything in your culture that is working against you? If so, what is it?
5. Think about a brand new person joining your team. What would you want them to feel by the time they left?
6. What’s your favorite thing about your team?
Where Culture Begins
The big takeaway? Culture begins with you.
The most effective tool you have for building the culture you want to feel is being the culture you want to build.
Tahe Governor is the pastor of Collective, the 18-30 young adults ministry of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He carries a deep passion for young adults to come to a true biblical understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to lead them in living it out. Instagram: @tahegovernor / Facebook: facebook.com/tahegovernor.