Next to mission, a godly culture is essential for ministry effectiveness. Absent a healthy culture, mission suffers. So what exactly is ministry culture, and how do you identify yours?
Early on in our ministry, our staff was relatively small. We had an unusually strong rapport—personalities, giftings, and skillsets jived well. We enjoyed each other. We took an annual jaunt to the beach. I thought to myself, “There will never be a better group of employees at this ministry.”
But I was wrong.
Along the way, God taught us about His culture for ministries—really, His universal culture for the body of Christ. And we’ve grown in staff rapport and ministry effectiveness ever since. I’ve learned that, contrary to the “honeymoon” culture I experienced with that small group of staffers—strong ministry cultures don’t just happen.
3 Pitfalls of a Weakly-Defined Culture
- Hit or Miss. If you don’t define your culture, your staffers will. And it will ebb and flow according to the comings and goings of staff along the way.
- Osmosis Myth. Your staff may pick up on your values and commitment-level. But most of them won’t carry it out to the extent that you do. A healthy culture isn’t transmitted vicariously.
- Low Impact. If your ministry culture is vague, its impact on your staff and ministry outcomes will be vague as well.
Take the Ministry Culture Quiz
Ministry culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that govern how people behave. Put a mental checkmark beside the areas you’re intentionally cultivating.
___ We have an expressed value for how we exalt and engage with God throughout any given day or week.
___ We have an expressed value for how we honor the sacredness of each person with whom we interact—staff, board, volunteers, clients, and individuals in the community at large.
___ We have an expressed value for how we actively get to know each other and affirm each other’s unique giftings and skills, leading to maximum engagement and ministry advancement.
___ We have an expressed value for how we corporately discern God’s wisdom and make decisions that have ministry-wide impact.
___ We have an expressed value for how leadership invites input and feedback from staff members, and provides for appropriately open communication throughout the organizational structure.
Next week we’ll look at “How to Establish Ministry Culture.” For now, begin jotting down the paramount values and beliefs you desire to see embraced and practiced in your ministry. The question isn’t whether or not your organization has a culture; it does. The question is, is it God-honoring, well-communicated, and lived out? Take heart—you’re on your way!