Preach This To Change The Church Culture

It’s been famously said that culture eats strategy for lunch. Your church has a culture whether you are intentional or not. Do people show up late to services? That’s a culture. Do people volunteer or sit on the sidelines? That’s a culture. Do people invite others to come to church? Culture.

To discover the good and bad culture that your church is cultivating ask the following questions to key staff/volunteers/leaders, “What are we known for?” Follow that up with, “What do we want to be known for?” Then ask, “If you visited our church once what would stand out the most?” Then ask, “If you could change one thing about our church what would you change?”

Go into this meeting prepared to not get defensive. This isn’t a time to battle or get your feelings hurt. It’s a time to learn. In order to change the culture you must preach it, teach it, live it, and spill it. In other words it’s not a one time conversation. It’s something we have to constantly manage.

As Andy Stanley once said, “People do not naturally drift in positive directions.” If you want to create a healthy culture it won’t happen by accident. Take the things you do not like from this meeting and start thinking through how to build a positive culture to get the results you want. A positive culture comes from the things you celebrate and reward. If you want to change the culture start celebrating the behaviors that represent the culture you want.

If all this is overwhelming then take a deep breath. You are not alone. Start slow. This doesn’t have to be solved in one day.

A key phrase that I try to say often in order to shape our culture is, “We don’t have to do this, we get to do this.” Whenever humans feel they have to do something their motivation plummets. It’s called the Law of psychological reactance. The law of psychological reactance – “if someone tells you to do something you probably won’t feel like doing it even if you had otherwise wanted to.”

When you feel like you have to do the laundry your motivation plummets. When you feel you have to do the dishes, yard work, or other monotonous chores you will struggle to find the motivation. Literally changing the way you think about it will help your motivation. You don’t have to do any of that. There is always a choice. You don’t have to go to work. You can skip. You might get fired, but you have a choice. You don’t have to, you get to. This phrase changes ones attitude.

Every piece of laundry represents someone you love. Every dish represents someone you love. Everything you do represents someone. It either represents you and your work ethic or it represents someone you love. At some point they may not be around and at that point you may miss getting to do things for them. You don’t have to, you get to.

This is important for the people we lead because often they don’t think about church as a choice. They treat it like a choice by skipping, prioritizing other things, or flaking out, but when it comes to plugging into the church often people feel they have to. They miss that volunteering is amazing chance to partner with God to change lives. They miss that inviting is a chance to make God famous.

We don’t have to, we get to.

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