6 Easy Ways to Change a Church’s Culture
How is it that some churches are friendly and others are not, some churches are outgoing and others are inwardly-focused, some churches are intent on multiplying themselves while others are self-serving? It has to do with their organizational culture. In the same way that each individual has his or her own personality and every family has its own characteristics, every church has its own unique culture.
By having its own culture, we are referring to its observable activities and attitudes, behaviors and beliefs, celebrations and concerns. These are seen in the ways churches worship, how the sermon is preached, the ways that the building is maintained, the kinds of activities and events that take place, and the roles and relationships of individuals.
Surprisingly, it is easier to change the culture of a church than you may think.
And leaders are able to be agents of cultural transformation. Here are some ways in which leaders can shape or facilitate changes in a church’s culture, according to an article by Andrew Hebert entitled, “How to Shape Your Church’s Culture.”
“First, leaders set direction and cast vision. The focus of church members on the future of the church is vital. If the vision is focused inwardly, it will not take long before the culture of the church is selfish and inwardly focused. If the vision statement calls for great sacrifice in reaching the nations, the culture will begin to reflect an expectation of sacrifice in all things.
“Second,… through the use of language and terminology. Whether it is in the pulpit, in the vision statement, on church signage, etc., language impacts the way people behave, what they value, and ultimately what they begin to assume and believe… If you can get the key leaders of the church to speak the same language and emphasize the same terms, the church members will soon learn to care and think about those ideas…
“Third, the way the pastor responds in critical moments in the life of the church shapes culture. For instance, when a pastor responds to a crisis with a calm confidence in God’s sovereignty, the people will learn from that…
“Fourth,… by what they praise and what they rebuke. If leaders celebrate baptisms, the church will learn to value baptisms… If evangelism is praised and gossip rebuked by the leadership, the members will begin viewing evangelism and gossip in ways consistent with those actions.
“Fifth,… through personal example… Servant leadership encourages others to serve. Missional leadership encourages others to be mission-minded. To be a disciple is to be a ‘learner.’ The teacher can shape the behavior, values, and beliefs of the learner in significant ways through example.
“Sixth,… through the power of persuasive personal influence. There is an interesting theme in…the story of Zacchaeus. After eating together and being around Jesus one-on-one, Zacchaeus pledged to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times what he extorted from others. If you are a leader, don’t underestimate the persuasive power of your personal influence.”
Church Leadership Center can help you change (transform) you church. We provide assessment activities, courses, training plans, Elder and Deacon training, visioning retreats and a variety other resources to assist local churches. Contact us to begin a conversation about ways to bring transformation to the culture of your congregation.