“Church culture isn’t naturally healthy because people aren’t naturally healthy. As a leader, one of your chief jobs is to figure out why your culture isn’t healthy and change that.”
I've been fascinated with culture-shaping since I first read about companies such as Buffer (and more recently Netflix) that were building their organisational cultures from scratch. The start-up world is now full of “culture decks” that codify the culture of the company.
I've started to reflect on what a healthy church culture looks like. Matt Chandler, Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger define this in their book, “Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church” when they say:
“A church culture is healthy when there is congruence and consistency between what the church says is important to her and what others know really is important to her.”
10 Quotes on Shaping a Healthy Church Culture
“Culture is invisible but determinative. You can’t see it, but it defines so much.” – Carey Nieuwhof
“Culture is important because it shapes everything about the way things are done in the church. Strategies easily come and go, but culture is deeply imbedded and difficult to change.” – Andrew Herbert
“The conversation that the next generation of leaders must have is how to ensure church health. My belief is that the most effective way of creating healthy churches is to create church cultures that reflect Biblical norms. Until we produce a culture of evangelism and discipleship in our churches, for instance, we will never have healthy churches, regardless of whether our services have a crowd or not. Wise leaders will learn to understand and shape the culture of their churches to reflect faithfulness to the Scripture.” – Andrew Herbert
“Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrines of grace create a culture of grace, a social environment of acceptance and hope and freedom and joy. Jesus himself touches us through his truths to create a new kind of community. Without the doctrines, the culture alone is fragile. Without the culture, the doctrines alone appear pointless.” – Ray Ortland
“I have been teaching more decades now that I can count and if I have learned anything from all of this teaching, its this: my students…learn what I’m excited about.” – Don Carson
“Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be… Delegating it to anyone else is the kiss of death.” – Bill Hybels
“There are only two people at Willow – Culture Builders or Culture Busters.” – Bill Hybels
“You can shout vision from the rooftops and deliver your core values with inspiring speeches, yet still develop a culture disconnected from your aspirations. How? By behaving in a way that’s inconsistent with what you say.” – Stephen Blandino
“Your culture is a combination of what you create, and what you allow.” – Craig Groeschel
“Healthy people are drawn to healthy cultures. Healthy people don’t stay in unhealthy cultures.” – Andy Stanley
“If your website says “missions” is a core value, and yet the music ministry budget is four times as big as your missions ministry, your church culture doesn’t line up with your stated values.” – Trevin Wax
“It’s possible to talk about grace and still be a legalist. It’s possible to talk about Jesus and still be self-centered. It’s possible to talk about guests and still be unwelcoming.” – Trevin Wax
“When a leader is unclear about his or her philosophy (personally and organizationally), the consequence is employee conflict (because every employee has a philosophy too). If you want to better understand your church’s culture, consider the philosophies you hold and how they shape what you do.” – Stephen Blandino
“Words frame culture. Every word you speak has benefits and baggage…The language you choose defines your organization’s culture in the minds of the people you lead and the people you serve.” – Stephen Blandino
“When systems change, behaviors change. When behavior changes, the church’s culture follows suit.” – Stephen Blandino
Books on Shaping Church Culture
- “Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow” by Carey Nieuwhof.
- “Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration” by Samuel R. Chand.
- “Creating Your Church's Culture: How to Uproot Mediocrity and Create a Healthy Organizational Culture” by Stephen Blandino.
- “Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out” by Wayne Cordeiro and Robert Lewis.
- “Organizational Culture and Leadership” by Edgar Schein.
- “Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page” by Larry Osbourne.