Years ago, I took a business management course and I believe it was Tom Peters who drilled it into my head that when leadership determines the need for a culture change, that it begins and ends with leadership – starting in the C-Suite and spiraling out from there. He went on to assert that the primary reason culture doesn’t change in most companies is because the top brass announce the shifts and then continue to operate in exactly the same ways they’ve always behaved.
Hmm. That sounds suspiciously like the same issue the church is facing today.
Recently, I had a conversation with a pastor who’s struggling with getting the membership to serve. Instead, they continue to complain that they’re tired, they’ve done their time, or that they’re too busy. The pastor wanted to know what’s working to reverse that trend – and it IS a trend.
Here’s my response:
“I’m not aware of anything that’s working universally – in terms of programming. But the ultimate solution is church-culture change from consumerism to personal responsibility for mission-attainment. (Much like Granger Community Church – former UMC – did.)
“When the people in the pews feel uncomfortable if they choose not to serve – and those who choose not to serve decide to leave and find another church where they can continue to be a Potted Pew Plant somewhere else – then you know you’re on the right track.
“Culture change is difficult, but it’s possible … but this is one of those changes that starts at the top, not at the grassroots level. When …
(1) The pastor is clear about THEIR mission and vision vs. the CHURCH’S mission and vision;
(2) The pastor is self-differentiated enough to own what is their role/responsibility in the church and hand off or stop doing what isn’t mission critical no matter the cost;
(3) The pastor has the skills to cast a vision so powerful that others can see it, taste it, dream it, and get behind it;
(4) The pastor has the courage to bully-proof their church;
(5) The pastor builds their dream teams and dismantle the structures/practices that impede the mission; and
(6) The pastor moves into maximizing mission and foreswearing all else – THEN the culture will change.
“But that’s a LOT of work … and you and I both know, most clergy are unwilling to work that hard or risk that much.”
Changing culture IS hard work, but it CAN be done. Pastor, if you’re willing to do the work, I’m willing to come along side to help you get and implement the processes necessary to transform your church’s culture. It’s not an overnight, read a book and watch a couple of videos process. In fact, I’ll work with you every single week for six months (plus require you to read the books and watch the videos!).
If you’re at all interested, then get an intake appointment with one of my coaches – I only work with those who are exceptionally teachable, coachable, and are willing to do the hard work of church transformation. If that’s not you, please don’t make the appointment. But if that describes you, then you owe it to yourself, your career, your church, and IMHO the Kingdom to at least have the conversation.
So, if that’s you, schedule an assessment call now and we’ll see if we’re a match.
If top leadership does not authentically and genuinely support the desired culture transformation, change efforts will likely fail. As individuals with the power and resources to create cultural CHANGE on an organization-wide level, leaders have a lot of responsibility .