Every church has culture. Your culture is undeniable. In fact, it is unstoppable! This is both good and bad news. If you have focused on developing a healthy culture, then you should be reaping some amazing benefits. However, if you have just allowed culture to happen, you may be experiencing some pain.
To best understand how culture works, just imagine a greenhouse. Every greenhouse identifies its environment in advance. The proper elements are created in temperature, soil, moisture, etc. The appropriate plants are then assembled. With the right plants in the right greenhouse with the right care, growth can’t be stopped. So what type of greenhouse have you built? What growth agents have you deployed? What kind of disciples are you growing?
A Culture of Begging
One of the more glaring examples of an unhealthy church can be seen in how it creates a greenhouse for volunteers and living generously. It transcends church size, denomination, or location. It is is a culture of begging vs. leading.
It can sound something like this:
“Our people are so disengaged.”
“Why do we have such a hard time getting volunteers, but these same people leave our church and start volunteering immediately in their new church home?”
“Why do people give so much time to lead big efforts in their kids schools or local ballparks, but we can’t get them to do hardly anything?”
“We have such a hard time getting people to participate in groups.”
“We always need more ___________ to make this ministry really grow.”
“If the pastor will just push volunteering more from the stage it would help me.”
“It’s the same people who volunteer for everything. We need more volunteers.”
“Our people just don’t give like they should.”
“If our people would just tithe, all our financial challenges would be solved.”
This kind of language can result in blaming, shaming, and begging. It can exhaust both the speaker and listener. It can promote a negative culture that creeps out from leadership meetings to the people without you even knowing it. When you find yourself on the wrong side of the problem, you can become event driven, sign up crazed, emphasis-oriented, or default to crisis fundraising. Seeking these quick fixes and short term solutions will only dig a deeper hole even if you gain immediate relief. This is fools gold.
A Culture of Choosing
You have to change your leadership language and culture. You should be able to confidently tell your people:
“We do not need any more volunteers. We do not need any more money. You are so generous and our leadership is so faithful that we run a surplus of both. However, you need to serve and give for your sake. It is where God’s blessings are found for you. It is where you grow, connect, and make a difference. You will find freedom, joy, and victory.”
But please note, you can’t just show up this weekend saying these words as if they magically create culture. You have to grow vision culture and develop strategy before you ever have a problem. This gives you the freedom and power to direct your resources (facilities, emotions, words, people, time, and money). You want your people to have the ability to participate in something great, not give them something necessary they need to do. Make powerful leadership decisions before you have a problem. If you already have a problem, then own it as a leader. Don’t run to the quick-fix, feel-good, high-pressure emphasis. Fix it the right way over time with the correct process.