Cultivating Culture

4 months ago

BY Field Day

Cultivating Culture

Espresso based drinks are delicious. Especially if the beans are sourced well, roasted beautifully, ground perfectly and prepared properly. There are some “purists” out there who will only have espresso black, with no syrups added. That is to be respected, however over the years baristas across the world have made it their mission to dream up new latte flavors. Some buy pre-made, mass produced syrups, which is fine. On the other hand, there are some baristas who will only use syrups they curate themselves in-house. From pistachios that taste like literal pistachios to strawberry syrup made from real strawberries. Oftentimes, you can distinguish a mass produced syrup from the ones made by hand in the venue. There’s just something special. A unique flavor that takes over and keeps you coming back for more. The same could be said for a cheaply made, mostly artificially flavored syrup that leaves a poor aftertaste. At best, you keep coming back for more simply because it’s cheap or convenient. At worst, you don’t come back at all. Good or bad in both of these examples, the drinks have a unique taste. 

A unique flavor that takes over and keeps you coming back for more.

Whether it’s your tight-knit family, your cozy home, your work crew, or your squad of friends, there is an unspoken code that shapes how things happen. A unique flavor to the way things are in all of the environments you are a part of. It’s the way you chat with each other, how you feel about being fashionably late or the way you can count on everyone being early. It could include the lingo you use, and whether or not sarcasm is appreciated or frowned upon. That relational syrup that gives every group its unique flavor is called its Culture. Culture is the set of values, and social practices associated with a group or organization. Said simply, culture is the “way of life” of a group of people. Whether created intentionally or growing organically over time, every family, home, company and friend group has a culture.

Culture is either designed intentionally or just naturally evolves over time. It has been said that culture is either defined or default. Church leaders have the ability to develop the culture of their organization. They have the chance to define the way people should treat each other, what is valued and what is prioritized. Pastors are constantly encouraged to prayerfully choose the culture and values at their church. These values are normally splashed on a banner in the lobby or branded on the website. 

For church leaders, choosing the culture and values doesn’t have to be complicated. There is a general playbook they all use called the Word of God. Defining the culture is much easier than ensuring everyone is abiding by the values laid out by leadership. Designing culture is the easy part, but how do you cultivate it? To cultivate, is to foster growth. To create an environment where something grows easily. Follow these tips to ensure your culture takes root.

Define It

Culture is either defined or default. If you have not clearly defined the culture of your organization, it will default to the loudest voices and most repeated behavior. Have your values in writing and be able to share them. Include expectations and where those values are found in the scriptures. Have a “shared Language” that everyone uses. Create memorable phrases that are attached to the values you’re teaching. 

Learn It

You can’t cultivate what you don’t know. Quiz your crew, ensuring they’ve learned the values. Create materials that make them easy to learn.

Lead It

Speed of the leader, speed of the team. Leaders must champion culture. Before anyone reads the values, they must observe it from ministry leaders. Allow others to hold you accountable to the values you prayerfully set forth. People will do what you do, not what you tell them to do. 

Display It

By this step you’ve gotten your values down on paper and your leadership team knows them. It’s time to get the word out to the community. New guests or regular attendees alike should be able to see and read what it looks like to be a part of your community. Display them proudly with  signs and banners. Make sure they are front and center on your website for those considering being a part of your church.

Teach It

Every time you teach or gather is an opportunity to teach the values you all share. Start with the “why”. People will do any “what” if they know the “why”.

Correct It

Not everyone will dive into the culture at the same pace. What you allow, you inadvertently support. When someone is doing something outside of your ministries values, lovingly address it as a group in the moment. Correct those who continue to go against the culture in private.

Celebrate It

What is celebrated is repeated. Celebrate in public in huddles, during gatherings and with social media. Celebrate in private through words of encouragement and handwritten notes. 

Once the entire organization is on the same page with its core values, and those values are crystal clear, you’ll discover a powerful tool at your disposal for navigating everyday decision-making. Building a deliberate culture and having the courage to sustain it is hard, never-ending work. Yet, the endeavor of crafting and nurturing a culture rooted in biblical values is undeniably worthwhile.

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