Tag Archive - organization

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Changing the Culture of your Church

“Culture” is the latest buzz word in church world. Everyone seems to be talking about how to build a healthy culture and avoid a toxic one. But how do you know what your church culture actually is and how can you change it if you don’t like it?

A church’s culture is set by the defining set of values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the Sr. Leadership Team. This could be the Sr. Staff, a Board, Deacons or a group of Volunteer Leaders depending on the size and nature of the church.

Culture is something that is usually unnoticed, unspoken, and unexamined, particularly in churches. Especially by those inside the church. As a result, few churches ever take steps towards intentionally defining and building a desired culture; instead it usually happens by default. It’s very common to see churches fall into ruts and get stuck in the familiar traps of, “just preach the Word,” “just reach people,” or “just build disciples.” The problem is building a healthy culture in a church; particularly a healthy leadership culture is never “just that easy.” Every church already has a culture, but most of them are built on accident. As the leader you have to create the culture. If you don’t it will default to the strongest personality or loudest voice in the room.

Decide to:

You have to decide to change the culture. You have to decide what you don’t like about the existing culture…what behaviors, attitudes, decision making filters, beliefs or values are wrong and need to change? Seriously…make a list of what frustrates you about the culture of your church and must change to become a better version of what Jesus has in mind for it?

You Get What You Tolerate:

You get what you tolerate. Really. If there really are bad behaviors, attitudes, values, or other things about the culture that are “off,” they’re “off” because the Sr. Leader or Sr. Leadership Team has allowed it to be “off.” If you tolerate behaviors and attitudes that subvert and grate against the culture you’re trying to build, then you’ll never build the kind of culture you’re hoping for.

Starve the Past:

Starve the past. Kill it if you have to. The best way to change a culture is to build a new one. Simply start behaving and making decisions through the filter of the new culture you’re working to build. By attempting to take slow incremental steps to change the culture, instead of change you’re left with confusion. Much like a “blended worship service style,” nobody is happy. Frustration sets in because no one knows how to behave. In shifting, culture clarity is king. People need the leader to provide clarity as to how to act, make decisions and so on in this new framework.

Leverage Catalytic Moments:

Culture isn’t built in a moment but in a series of moments over time consistently leveraged to move things in the same direction. However, there are a few moments that have the opportunity to offer course corrections. Anything new has the opportunity to shift things significantly. The hire of a new Sr. Pastor or Sr. Leader, new board members, a new building, the start of a new ministry year, new vision clarity, a new worship service, or a new approach to ministry. Moments like these create windows of opportunity to significantly shift the culture.


Posted in Leadership

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Why Poor Internal Communication is a Symptom of something Worse

Any growing church or organization is going to experience pain along the way. Contrary to popular belief pain is not always a bad thing. It can be an indicator that something needs to change. Internal streamlined communication is one of the most common pain points that churches and organizations experience as they grow. The intriguing thing is that communication is rarely the real problem. It’s usually a symptom that the church or organization has outgrown its systems, structures and its time to change, or there is an unhealthy team culture.

#1 Cascading Communication
When information doesn’t cascade quickly and easily throughout the organization allowing the team members to quickly align and make decisions at the appropriate pace to respond to issues as they come up, there’s a communication problem.

#2 Lines of Communication
Too many lines of communication complicate things and complexity that isn’t married to efficiency slows things down.

#3 Information as Power
When information is used as power to hoard instead of to share decision-making slows down and the organization is robbed of the best thinking and solutions.

#4 Silos
When communication becomes territorial and team members don’t share information between departments you know you’ve got a problem that’s bigger than communication. 

#5 Who Makes What Decision?
When team members are confused as to whom they should go to for what decision communication is a symptom of a structural or system problem.

#6 Less Chance of a Veto
When information isn’t communicated up and team members would rather ask for forgiveness instead of permission, communication is an indicator that there is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed.

#7 End-around
When team members go around other team members, especially their supervisor this is another classic sign that unhealthy communication patterns are often a sing of an unhealthy team culture.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Don’t let your Organizational Chart Hold you Back

A friend of mine at the Unstuck Group shared a thought with me the other day that really resonated with me. He said, “Never let a box on an organizational chart define your level of influence in the organization.” My first thought was…”I wish more people thought like this!”

I’ve seen so many leaders, both young and old, limit themselves and limit their churches because of they way they think about their role, title, or box they sit in on the organizational chart. The problem is when you allow yourself to be limited by where you find yourself on an organizational chart you’ll always be limited by your organizational chart. This kind of thinking is a sure fire way to never grow or advance as a leader.

If you need a “Title” to Lead then you’re not a Leader

If you’re waiting for someone to give you a title or a particular box on the organizational chart to lead then you’re probably not a leader. Leaders naturally lead, because that’s who they are. I’m not saying leaders are bullies or that they don’t understand submission to authority that comes with being a part of an organizational chart. But boxes on organizational charts don’t box leaders in from being who they are.

Leadership is a Gift not a Position

The New Testament describes leadership as a spiritual gift, not a position on the organizational chart. Not everybody has that gift and it’s not given in equal measure. Positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership. If people only follow you because you have a title, you’re their boss, or you sign their paycheck then they’re not going to follow you very far or for very long.

Leadership is Acknowledged not Appointed

If you’re sitting around waiting for your opportunity to get in a particular position on the organizational chart before you start leading, you’re going to be waiting around for a long time. Leadership isn’t something that you get appointed to; it’s something that gets acknowledged for as you do it. So start leading where you are. Be faithful where you are right now today.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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3 Secrets of an Effective Church Staffing Structure

Let’s be honest: There’s no shortage of resources out there on building church staff teams. Where churches really struggle is putting what they’ve learned into action.

Later this month my friend Tony Morgan with the Unstuck Group is partnering up with William Vanderbloemen with Vanderbloemen Search Group to tackle this topic. William and Tony work with hundreds of churches of across the country; they witness firsthand where and why churches are stuck in this area.

This free webinar will break this topic down into three priority components and offer you clear next steps to start building a healthier, more effective team.

The health and effectiveness of your church starts with its leadership. This webinar will help you:

  • Get your structure and roles right.
  • Hire the right people (and know when it’s time to let them go).
  • Build a culture of leadership development.
  • Identify practical next steps you can use to circle up with your team and start leading the changes you need to make.

Thursday, May 26 at 1pm EST
Space is limited! Register now.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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4 Steps to Building an Intentional Culture in your Church in 2016

Building an intentional “culture” at your church is something a lot of people are talking these days but few people are actually doing. Truth is every church already has a culture, but most of them are built on accident.

Culture is that squishy stuff in an organization that’s hard to get your hands around and define. It’s reflected in the language of the organization, the way people who are a part of the organization dress, the filter they use to make decisions and so on. Culture has been defined as the sum total of the attitude, values and behaviors of an organization. And of course Peter Drucker, who is commonly referred to as the “father of modern management,” was famously quoted as saying the following about culture:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

If that’s true, and if culture really is so important then how do you purposefully build culture in your church? Say you want to build a culture of volunteerism, generosity, outreach, or discipleship; what steps would you take? Building a purposeful culture in a church doesn’t have to remain a mystery you can do it by following the following steps. All four steps are equally important, but most pastors usually only think about the first two.

1. Preach = Inspiration & Motivation

This answers the question, “Why should I do it?”

Words build worlds. In other words language matters, it matters a lot. We do this with our kids at home you probably do too. Like most kids my kids fight from time to time and sometimes it gets a little carried away. When this happens I’ll ask my son, “Are you strong?” and he’ll respond by saying, “Yea Daddy, I’m strong!” I’ll then ask him, “Who made you strong?” and he’ll reply, “Jesus made me strong.” Next I ask, “Why did Jesus make you strong?” to which he says, “To take care of people.” Next comes the question of clarity, I’ll ask him if he used his strength to take care of his brother or his sisters (whoever the fight was with). This has become normal language in our home and as a result the culture of our home is teaching him that his gifts are from Jesus and they have been given to him for the purpose of helping others, not simply to be spent on himself.

Example: Do a teaching series on biblical community and groups. Demonstrate and inspire from the Bible why it’s unacceptable to do life alone.

2. Teach = Instruction & Application

This answers the question, “How should I do it?”

Teaching is all about offering and training very specific steps that you want people to take that will move them towards the activities you want them to be involved in and the attitudes and behaviors you want them to demonstrate.

Example: Create a clear step that people can take to get into a Small Group.

3. Model = Illustration & Examples

This answers the question, “Are you buying what you’re selling?”

In other words are you authentic? Do you use your own product? This is a simple issue of leading with moral authority.

Example: All of our Staff are in groups and we’re leading the way, join us and get in a group too.

4. Celebrate = Celebration & Reinforcement

This answers the question, “What do you value?”

What gets celebrated gets repeated. What you cheer on and value in your church builds culture in your church. This may sound elementary, but if you’re a parent you’ll get what I’m about to say. There’s a reason you reward a kid when you’re potty training them with an M&M and cheer them on when they use the toilet. At no other time in your life will people cheer you on when you use the toilet. But when you’re training someone to do something for the first time, what you celebrate gets repeated.

Example: Publicly make “heroes” of and celebrate stories of people who got involved in a group and how their life was impacted and changed through biblical community.


Posted in Leadership
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