Leaders Create the Culture

Tuesday 12 July

Julian Richards outlines the key components that leaders can employ to create a culture they would like to see in their local church. Kerry Stewart summarises the session for you.

The aim is to create a culture in our churches that reflects the Kingdom of God and enables us to be fruitful and productive. Culture is more powerful than strategy. I also think that culture is more powerful than preaching. I love to preach and teach but I’ve noticed something, that when we create a culture in our church it accelerates people and excites them. The power of the culture is infectious.

For example, we have a healing culture in our church. People get healed nearly every single week. It goes way beyond understanding.  We can set the culture we want, the culture we need.

“As character is to an individual, culture is to an organisation or church”.

How do we have that culture that actually works towards our strategy and compliments our teaching so it becomes a powerful movement forward?

Habit forms character. These are the things we do deliberately and consistently. Through particular repeated habits, change begins to take place, personally and in the life of an organisation. Your corporate character can hamper or hinder your vision. If, for example you have a strategy to win lost people, to build relationships so you encourage people to go to church - that is when the culture can push people away, or it can accelerate their faith. They can see in the church what they have already seen in you.

What type of culture do you need to complement your character? One of hospitality, of consideration for your guests, not of a culture where you have to fit in to be a part of us, to be approved, or liked or wanted. I’ve experienced both. There are some churches were I think that I don’t really want to go to. If your culture is married to your vision, people might be pleasantly surprised!

How do we create culture?

Culture is a responsibility of leadership. Leaders need to clarify the culture and bring alignment of the culture to the vision. Unity needs to be brought through leadership. Be aware however, that ministry is different from leadership.

1) Clearly identify your vision and values. What type of culture do we need to achieve our values? If we fail to do this then we’re going to be doing a lot of stuff and not seeing anything happen.

2) Teach on the subject of the culture you want to see, and do it consistently. You don’t get a culture by doing a six-week course and not revisiting the point for another six years. Serve the same thing up but in different ways. We need to be creative so it is always coming fresh. Jesus did this amongst His disciples, then amongst the 70 and so forth. He said, “Repent the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” To repent means to change your mind. Jesus spent three years helping the disciples to change their minds. He did it as a priority.

3) A leader must model the culture you want to see. That’s a challenge! It’s easy to teach, it’s much more difficult to live it! People have to see it happening and hear stories about it. You’ll have to put a discipline in place, be deliberate and show an interest. Our public life as a church is what we do in church, while our private life as a church is what we do in relationships.

4) Only appoint leaders who live the culture you want. This is important because a church will rise to the level of the weakest leader. When someone is appointed to leadership, they become the standard we require, and most of us aim for the minimum, the least we can get away with therefore the congregational level will only rise to the point of the weakest leader. It is important to address all cultural lapses in leadership because what you do as a leader affects the culture

5) Create systems and practices that create the culture you want and remove any that don’t align. For example, a welcome team is a great idea but they shouldn’t do the job of welcoming, the church as a whole should have a welcoming culture. If this doesn’t happen, maybe you shouldn’t have a welcome team in place.

6) Guard your culture. Act if something is going terminal because if you don’t, you’ll lose it.

Hebrews 12: 15 says,  “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”.

Culture is key to mission so we have no choice but to address things if they go too far. Why? Because this stuff matters. Strategy and culture go together.