Generate desires to see churches renewed and strengthened. Through the Generate Renewal Grant, churches can work with experienced consultants to help fuel the health of their church ministries. The following article from one of Generate’s partnering consultants has tips that can help strengthen every church.
By A. J. Mathieu
Every church develops a culture of its own. It takes time, but through the years you can feel the uniqueness of any group of people. Some things will stand out right away and can easily be perceived by outsiders, such as a music-centered worship experience or the gathering of everyone for a Sunday meal after church. Other cultural aspects, which may be positive or negative, may take time to be discovered, such as support for adoption in families or conflict aversion in the leadership.
How can you develop a healthy culture in your church? It takes three important components:
- An understanding of what “healthy” looks like
- Intentionality in positive change
First, your leadership must come agree on what a healthy church culture looks like. Foundationally there are Biblical things that should be held up as examples, such as what we see at the end of Acts 2. Churches should be worshiping the risen King, praying intentionally, fellowshipping together to support and build one another up, learning and applying God’s Word, serving one another and the world around us, being generous with what we have, and bringing the name of Jesus to our neighbors and the nations.
Next, take the time to look inward at your church with a fresh, open perspective to see who you really have become. This can be accomplished to some extent by the pastor or a handful of leaders, but a broader perspective will yield better results. This can be a gut-wrenching process and one that first needs to be laid at the foot of the cross with a willingness to expose sin and strongholds.
Finally, who you are now needs to be reconciled with who you want to be so that an intentional change process can be developed. Steps one and two without step three will only make things worse. Exposing faults and shortcomings in light of what is right and Biblical without moving toward change will only breed resentment and dissatisfaction. You may think of the adage “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” While a church with a somewhat dysfunctional culture may not grow at any discernable rate, it can go on for a long time with a minimal critical mass needed to survive. We’ve not been called to survive though; we’ve been called to thrive! Not knowing any better is how thousands of churches go on now Sunday after Sunday. Eventually they come to the end of the life cycle. Once faults have been exposed, moving in a positive direction is critical.
At the end of the process, leading your church into a healthy culture comes down to one main thing: doing what good leaders do—lead! Churches sometimes embark on a process to develop a healthy culture and end up making things worse; leaders didn’t lead well and persevere into positive change. Fortunately, myriad resources are available today to ensure success if you truly want it.
J. Mathieu is president of The Malphurs Group.