Church culture is a combination of your values, ethos and way of doing things. It collectively sets the environment within which everything happens and is often directly shaped by our private, often unexplored, answers to “Why are we here?” Culture will have positive and negative elements within it and will be different in every church. What is essential is that church leaders understand the elements of their culture and the power that each element will exert on succeeding or failing to fulfil your Purpose and Vision. A well-known phrase is that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This is to say that if your culture is not supportive of your Purpose and Vision, it will ultimately be the driver of behaviours, decisions and outcomes. At the same time, a strong culture that is truly aligned with your church’s Purpose and Vision will be like a fly wheel, accelerating you forward. The power of culture to propel or obstruct your church’s plans really cannot be overstated.
Having understood the elements within current culture, Leadership Teams need to be clear on the kind of culture they want to create – one that will facilitate the church’s Purpose. The best church cultures we have experienced often include a culture of welcome, invitation, generosity, affirmation, honouring one another, an expectation of personal and corporate growth, a community and outward focus, caring for one another and working in teams.
Culture is very difficult to change and will require a long-term commitment and deliberate effort by the Leadership team to model the desired values and behaviours. Lead Academy has seen many churches enjoy early successes in changing their culture, but then to slip back into old behaviours, all because they declared “victory” too early, before the new culture was really embedded securely within the church.
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