Creating a Compelling Culture

“Culture is the soul of the organization.” – Dee Ann Turner

You can have an excellent weekend service and efficient systems, but still lose momentum by not being attentive to your church culture. It is crucial to win the battle in the spiritual, but also to remember the influence culture has on your church as well. Culture is not just your best intentions. It is the reality of what you guard, emphasize, and reward. Culture is the air your team breathes as they operate in your ministry and pursue your church’s mission.

Great culture is not always easy to create or maintain. In her book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, Dee Ann Turner offers some great advice to those seeking to create a healthy culture in their organization. Here are four simple steps she gives to create a compelling culture.

4 Steps to a Compelling Culture

  1. “A Clear Purpose for Existing” – This is the why for your church or your vision statement. We have this purpose from the Great Commission, but what language will you use to contextualize this for your specific part in that great work?
  2. “A Challenging Mission” – Your vision is the world you see because of your church exists. Your mission is what you and your team are going to do every day to achieve your vision. This should be simple and easily repeatable by everyone on your team.
  3. “Determine Core Values” – Your church will be and do a lot of things, but if you could only focus on a few repeatable, memorable values, what would they be? Everything else will grow from there. “Businesses [or churches] do not become excellent in the big areas without focusing on the small details too. Excellence in small things leads to excellence in big things.”Dee Ann Turner
  4. “Guiding principles” – These are your culture statements. What phrases are you using to summarize the different aspects of the culture you want to create?

Leaders love seeing external growth. And who can blame them? But we need to also focus on creating cultures in our ministries that will cause us to be internally strong. When we have internal growing up, the external growing out will come and be sustained.

What do you think creates a compelling culture? What are some things that hurt your culture? Anything you would add or take-a-way? Let me know!

Everyone Has a Story

How Empathy Can Make Your World Bigger

I recently had an encounter with a tree that taught me a lot about empathy and influence. You can read about it my post “Lessons From A Tree.”

Shortly after this incident I was reminded of how far I still have to go when it comes to taking my eyes off myself and showing care and attention to others.

Friend of the year award

A friend of ours at work went home early on Friday because she wasn’t feeling well. On Monday she was back in the office and when I came home that day Amy asked me how she was doing. I didn’t know… because I didn’t ask.

I could have kicked myself! Way to show empathy Josh! I guess I am not getting that friend of the year award I had my eyes on.

I was so worried about my own day that I forgot to spread some love, care, and empathy in my friends life.

Everyone has a story

Truett Cathy said that “everyone person has a story if only we bother to read it.” You can learn more about this principle in the book, It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner.

Learning other people’s stories in small ways doesn’t just make their lives better it makes our lives bigger as well. Listening to someone’s day or difficulty is an investment in relationship that has a 100 fold return. The best way to do this is to ask questions.

3 Questions That Uncover People’s Stories:

How are you doing?

This is so basic that it is almost not even worth mentioning but it is something I forgot to ask a friend at work that sites right next to me everyday. When there is a change in someone’s routine or schedule don’t just assume they are ok. They probably are, but checking in on them when they are absent lets them know you care.

How can I make you look like a rock star?

Jon Acuff talks about this in his book Do Over. When he goes to speaking events he always asks, “A week after the event, what can I have done that makes you look like a rock star to the people who matter at your job?”  He says we should ask our coworkers, clients, and others the same question if we want to win at relationships. “What can I do to make you look like a rock star to the people that matter most to you?”

What can I do to make that easier for you?

When someone is expressing a concern or complaining it is easy to get negative with them but that never helps anyone. The better thing to do is to invest in the relationship by asking, “What can I do to make that easier for you?” You not only turn a negative into a positive but also add value to the relationship.


Jon Acuff says that when we take time to know someone’s story we “make 2-D people 3-D.” What if this is the key to getting along with the difficult people in your life? What if you just need to make a 2-D person 3-D in order to have more influence with them? Asking questions, and reading people’s story, doesn’t just make your world bigger it makes our world better.

What stories are right in front of you that have yet to read? How can you take a step to make a 2-D person in your life a 3-D person with a story?

Here are a couple of books that have helped me grow in empathy and making others bigger: