By John Poitevent
Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This might be more true in churches than anywhere else. The greatest challenge for any organization is that of changing its own internal culture, and the older and more established the organization, the greater the difficulty. When you add to this dynamic the challenge of shifting a culture from self-focused to others-focused you have a formidable task. Edgar Schein, an organizational development expert, defines an organization’s culture as its “artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and basic underlying assumptions.” Once a leader determines these areas must change for the sake of the mission, what are the key catalysts for implementing that change?
1. Your Pulpit
Culture is shaped by communication. The language you use, the values you teach, the stories you tell and the things you celebrate all create and promote your culture. It’s been said that “the pulpit drives the church.” A pastor’s personal voice carries more weight than bulletins, signage or video announcements. Whether someone is a part of the core or the crowd, the voice of the pastor plays a significant role in shaping their understanding of who the church is and where it is headed. Regularly sharing missional vision and stories of people living out the kingdom in their daily lives will make missional living a “normal” part of your church culture.
2. Your People
Cultural communication is only effective to the degree that it is lived out by leadership and staff. This is why Disney calls every single employee a “cast member.” From the top to the bottom of the org chart, your mission must be modeled in order to have sustainability. Hiring the right people is key, but so is leading them by example. If the staff’s experience with their leadership does not reflect the culture that they are being asked to promote, there will be a disconnect at best, but more likely resentment as well. However, if leaders model the culture, it will only be natural for staff to replicate this lifestyle with the people they serve.
3. Your Programs
Whether you follow a Simple Church model or have a hundred programs, every ministry in your church plays a unique role, however the mission of Jesus should be woven through them all. No program is an end to itself, but merely another doorway to spiritual formation and equipping. By intentionally integrating a missional vision and strategy into all of your programs, you minimize silos, avoid self-absorbed ministries and develop disciples who change the world.
4. Your Processes
Your processes are what help people connect the dots. The effectiveness of the pathways you create can make all of the difference in how well people engage in your vision. Your church can have great preaching, people and programs, but if your process is unclear or frustrating, people are unlikely to take next steps. When the level of participation is low we often say, “People just don’t get it!”, however, we may have failed to make an effective pathway for them. You must evaluate and fine tune your processes, making sure that they are clear, simple and easy to follow.
5. Your Promotion
You can post your core values on your website, but in the end, the things you promote the most are what people will perceive as important. What are you consistently communicating and what language are you using? What imagery are you using? How are you leveraging technology, social media and communication tools to spread your missional vision? Your communications department is the every day voice of your vision.
Does your church need a culture shift? At HUB:Missional Engagement, we will be addressing these issues and more as we seek to engage ever member in the mission of the church. Consider joining us on this journey: 3 gatherings over 12 months for eternal impact. For more info on HUB:Missional Engagement visit https://leadnet.org/missionalengagement or call us today at (214)546-1377.