If you are a church leader probably you have given thought to your mission and vision, perhaps a lot of thought. And that’s great, you should. Perhaps you’ve even gone ahead and given flesh to those bones with specific strategies and goals to fulfill your mission and vision. But there’s another piece that still needs to be attended to. It’s called culture. Culture is how you behave. As author Peter Drucker wrote, “culture eats mission, vision and strategy for breakfast.” It’s that important. A bad organizational culture will probably defeat whatever kind of mission you have. A great culture will elevate even the most modest enterprise.
Here are three problems that I’ve found in many church cultures, that absolutely kill their very best efforts.
#1. The church is more about truth than grace.
Jesus came bringing truth and grace, and his church needs to be about both. But some parishes I’ve seen are much more about truth, which gets translated into judgment. They become all about judgment, especially of outsiders, the unchurched, the lost, anybody who doesn’t dress like them, like the same music they like, whatever. Ironically, they’ll be full of grace for the people inside the church, in fact they’ll bend over backwards to accommodate them. This is all exactly backwards. If you lead a church your job is to reach people, not judge them.
#2. The church doesn’t handle conflict well.
Unhealthy churches are almost always characterized by a culture that doesn’t know how to handle conflict. So, it never gets resolved. They are conflicted churches. Instead of resolution and reconciliation the conflict gets redirected, it comes out sideways and spills over into other things. Everything gets mixed up, there is infighting, passive aggressive attacks, gossip, misdirect complaint, bad morale, you name it. Why in the world would anyone want to join a church like that?
#3. The church can’t handle criticism
Nobody likes criticism, and churches get more than their share, so if you work in churchworld you are probably sensitive to this point (I know I am). But a healthy church is going to be open to hearing justified criticism and feedback and learn from it. An unhealthy church is going to have a justification for every criticism and refuse to learn from it. Theirs is a culture that is closed minded and increasingly arrogant and eventually isolated. Not a position for growth.
Think about your church’s culture. What needs to change?
For another take on this take a look at careynieuwhof.com