Culture is one of those words that is thrown around often but if you asked someone to describe it, they would have a hard time giving a solid definition. It is a feeling about an organization. It is the way it functions. It is the dress code.
A solid definition of culture is culture is a system of shared meaning held by its members, how the organization is perceived. How does your staff perceive the organization? How does your congregation perceive the organization?
These shared meanings help to distinguish organization from organization. Wouldn’t it be boring if every church was the same? We all have unique personalities which is why God created churches with unique personalities.
The church culture is designed and decided by the senior leadership team of a church. The speed of the leader the speed of the team.
Want a church that is innovative? You have to be innovative and allow for a culture of trial and error. Is attention to detail important? Is the focus more on outcomes or people? Is it a team based culture or a lone ranger mentality? Is serving a core value of the church? Is missions a part of the church culture?
This video explains Apple’s culture. Yes, I know it isn’t a church, but it exemplifies that when people know the culture, they know the limits and scope in which they work. They know what is expected of them.
Church culture helps to define boundaries. It conveys a sense of identity within the church. When you feel like you belong, there is a sense of commitment beyond oneself. Culture allows those in the organization to make sense of decisions made and actions taken, because they align with the core values of the church and what they know.
Older churches are steeped in tradition and are often hard to change. As new leadership comes in, the lead pastor may have a difficult time instilling the core values that would help the congregation flourish. With a new church, a church plant, you have the privilege of establishing the culture of your church. In my opinion, this is easier than trying to change the culture of older churches.
The culture of your church is set by you and the senior leadership team. What type of culture are you communicating on a daily basis? Does your staff feel like they have brought something to the table that has contributed to more people coming to know Christ and following Christ fully?
Asking yourself and your staff to describe the church culture is an important question to ask. Is your church culture so definitive that your staff could describe it? As a senior leader, would you be ok with how your staff defines your culture? We would love to hear the good and bad of your church culture!