Beyond the buildings and programs and personalities that make up a Church community there is also going to be a culture, just like any organization or community.
The dictionary defines culture as the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns characteristic of any community. It’s a style of social expression and activity that is deeply determining for what gets done, what is produces, what happens.
It goes without saying that many Churches have a very formal and ritualized culture. That is fine, I like formality and ritual. But often this also means an insider-outsider kind of culture, or what I like to call the “country club” Church. This is probably the gravitational pull of Church life. To be an outwardly focused, growing church a very different culture is needed, and we have to be intentional about it, and it has to start with the staff and the volunteer staff. Here are three elements of an intentionally healthy culture that we are working on with our staff (in no particular order).
1) Celebrating wins and sharing stories: every Monday our Pastoral Team (we now number 10 and counting) get together for lunch and review the weekend. We don’t focus on what went wrong or needs work, though there is another opportunity for that too. We review the weekend specifically by sharing stories of life change and celebrating stuff that went well. Everybody usually leaves energized by the discussion and renewed in the value of what we are doing.
2) We trust one another, and always believe the best about others. There is absolutely no gossip, no passive aggressive communication. If difficult things need to be said, they are said respectfully and hopefully in love. If emotions flare (we have some Italians on board, myself included, so emotions flare), they are acknowledged and dealt with. All of this is only possible because we only hire people we already like and trust. There is affinity and affection within the staff circle. When we look for new staff or raising up volunteer staff to leadership level, they have got to fill the “chemistry” requirement.
3) We let our leaders lead. I use to be a great micro-manager, I loved getting into other people’s stuff and telling them how to do it, and when I had people I really didn’t trust working for me, it was often necessary to micro-manage them. Leadership level people won’t be micro-managed, they’ll just walk away. We want (and have) a staff of leaders, so we have to let them lead…it also frees up a lot of time on my schedule.