Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration is available now!
Why did you write Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code?
As a leadership consultant, I often wondered why the best strategic plans and leadership were so frequently unable to move churches in the desired direction.
Good leaders and visionary churches with human and financial resources were not moving forward at the pace I envisioned for them to progress. Through much inner angst, frustration and sense of failure the answer came. It was simple yet not simplistic—organizational culture is stronger than any other force including vision, mission, core values, purpose statements, goals, strategic planning and all the rest combined. I’ve since then concluded that organizational culture will eat vision for lunch, and I wrote this book out of that realization.
How did you come to the realization that the key is in culture?
The first time I verbalized this concept was at a leadership conference in Las Vegas with Pastor Benny Perez. During the Q&A a pastor shared his frustrations and I heard myself say for the first time, “culture is stronger than vision—your issue is not your vision or strategy, you’re fighting an internal culture war!”
This book is designed to make the invisible visible, to take the mysteries out of understanding church culture and provide pragmatic and bite-sized solutions to create a healthy culture. When there’s a disconnect between a leader’s vision and the receptivity of the staff, the problem isn’t with the vision; it’s the culture. Most leaders don’t invest much in their church’s culture simply because they assume it’s “just fine.” I believe, though, that great leaders devote as many resources to building and shaping their organization’s culture as invest in vision and strategy. In fact, vision and strategy simply can’t succeed without a positive, healthy culture.
How do you know when a culture code has been unlocked?
The most intriguing is when the light bulbs go on—visibly—and all the challenges of an organization start making sense. What I hear most verbalized is, “Wow, I’ve been fighting the wrong war! It all makes sense. I can see it. I understand it. I see my responsibility in all of this. I can do this!”
What do you say in the book that’s new?
Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code describes five easily identifiable categories of church culture (from inspiring to toxic), with diagnostic descriptions in the book and a separate online assessment tool (www.freeculturesurvey.com). While some books on organizational culture are dense and difficult to read, Cracking Your Church’s Culture is designed to blend narrative examples and use clear diagnostic handles to identify needs and opportunities. The book also uses direct applications for leaders to implement effective strategies. At the end of each chapter, the reader will find questions to stimulate reflection and discussion.
Who is the book written for?
This book is designed for senior pastors, church leadership teams, and top lay leaders. The principles also apply to leaders of non-profit organizations, colleges and other institutions of higher education.
What are the big surprises in the book?
The big surprises of the book are in its simplicity and total applicability. It allows the reader to do more than diagnose and allows for practical ways to shift the culture and enlarge the fulfillment of the vision. The principles and practices in this book are designed to equip pastors to be the leaders they have always wanted to be. It’s not a magic formula—quite the contrary. Changing the collective culture is one of the most challenging processes an organization will ever implement, but it will revolutionize the way their team functions and create centers of health throughout the establishment.
What do you hope readers learn from the book?
Culture is the strongest force in organizations, including churches. It is stronger than vision, leadership structure, or resources. A church’s culture, however, can be understood, dismantled and recreated. It is the only purely people-centric category in an organization, and its effects are easily measurable. A toxic culture ruins relationships, distorts purpose, and ruins a church’s vision, but leaders can take steps to create a culture that inspires people and brings out the best in every person.
What are one or two lessons you’ve learned that you want to pass on to readers?
Lesson 1—Don’t ask a fish what water tastes like because the fish is immersed in water and has no external source of reference. Hence, Pastors and leaders within the organization, much like fish, need an outsider’s point of view. Much like all reading this interview have been to places where they could sense “something is not right” so can an outsider (now known as consultants) do for them.
Lesson 2—Culture shifts can’t be rushed. There is no silver bullet—there are scatter guns though! There is a methodical approach to diagnose and improve any organization’s culture.
What can we look for next?
I’m working on a yet to be titled book dealing with the Pain of Leadership.
As a Dream Releaser, Dr. Samuel R. Chand serves Pastors, ministries and businesses as a Leadership Architect and Change Strategist. Dr. Chand has served as senior Pastor, college President, Chancellor and President Emeritus.
Learn more about Dr. Chand, his ministry and resources at www.samchand.com.