Change Your Church's Culture to Change its Future
- Friday, July 22, 2005
Have faith that you can create a better culture. Don't limit God's plans for your church. Realize that whatever God wants your church to be, it can be and do. Be willing to take risks and work creatively toward a better future. Be confident that God can grow your church in all the ways He wants to do so. Believe God's promises about your church's potential.
Follow the Holy Spirit's lead. Remember that the ultimate culture shifter is the Holy Spirit. Make sure that you welcome the Spirit's guidance, listen to it, and cooperate with it. Trust God to work through you and other people to make the changes that should be made at your church. Rely on God's strength rather than your own.
Submit your personal agenda to God. Know that you can build your church's right culture only when it reflects God's kingdom values instead of just your own personal preferences. Trade your own agenda for God's priorities. Check your life for inconsistencies in what you model, and ask God to help you become a better leader who is marked by integrity. Whatever you believe God wants your church to be, you become it first, striving to be genuine to the core.
Communicate the vision and build support for it. Clearly communicate God's vision for the church to your staff, board, and laypeople, and challenge them to surrender their own personal agendas to God's grander vision for your congregation. Honestly evaluate your church's structure and traditions together to see if they're compatible with God's vision for the church. List the concrete values that would exemplify the new culture you're trying to create. Encourage healthy discussion about them. Gradually and lovingly build understanding, acceptance, and unity among others in your church.
Enlist allies to champion the culture shift. Preach about your church's core values in a sermon series. Write down a specific vision statement that answers the question, "What is our church going to be?" Discuss the vision in Sunday school classes and other small groups. Understand that you release the new culture through people as they embrace it and live it out. Believe in the potential of the people God has given your church, and release the right culture through them. Celebrate and honor those in your congregation whose lives have been transformed in ways your church's vision emphasizes.
Be accountable. Adjust your church's ministries to reflect its new vision. Ask other key church leaders to hold you accountable to guide your church in the right direction. Learn from feedback you receive. Every year, evaluate the progress of your church's culture shift. Spend time with people on the front lines of ministry and see how they're doing living out your church's core values. Listen to them voice their concerns. Determine how to stay on course.
Celebrate successes. Thank God for all the specific ways you've observed Him at work transforming your church. Celebrate victories together as a congregation. Give God the glory.
Adapted from Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out, copyright 2005 by Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro. Published by Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, San Francisco, Ca., www.josseybass.com.
Robert Lewis is the author of The Church of Irresistible Influence and many other books, as well as lead pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, a church known for its innovation.
Wayne Cordeiro is the founder and leader of New Hope Community Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. New Hope produces internationally broadcast television and radio programs, and Wayne speaks at a variety of large events and conferences, including Willow Creek's Summit.
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