Every organization has culture. In many cases the culture is multi-faceted. In the living church ministries we see culture layer upon layer. Sometimes we have conflicting cultures. In far too many cases, those conflicting cultures lead to church splits.
Once the foundation of a church is in place, I believe three necessary cultures that are critical to the success of any great church must be in place. These three cultures do not develop on short notice and they do not do so by osmosis. It is critical that the senior pastor take the lead in the development of these cultures, teaching and coaching on all aspects of each.
If the church is an established church, 25 years or older, the development of these cultures will take time, a lot of it. Further, the three cultures are not a magic wand to grow the church you serve numerically and/or spiritually. They are, however, essential to have in place if you as the senior leader desire to see the church grow.
1. A Culture of Prayer – All churches would like to think of themselves as houses of prayer. “Oh yes, we are a praying church,” would be the mantra of most pastors. But when push comes to shove, what we often find is that churches have “Prayer Ministries.” They do the same with all sorts of the things God tells us all to do. In other words, churches have the prayer folks, the evangelism folks, the discipleship folks, etc. when in reality we are all charged with the responsibility to do those things.
It is critical that the church develops a culture of prayer. Even for yourself, as gifted as you are, do you want to go about the leadership of the church on your own talent? I can assure you that the level you can take the church on your own pales in comparison to where the church can go when it is engulfed in a culture of prayer.
It is your job to develop that culture. Do not succumb to the statement, “Our people won’t pray.” If your people won’t pray it is in large part because you have not taught them to pray. You must lead by example. You must tout the values of prayer and the instruction of our Lord to pray. In short, you need to start yesterday teaching, cultivating, encouraging, and leading the charge to possess a culture of prayer.
2. A Culture of Change – If there is one thing you can count on it is this. If the church you serve is going to grow it will change. How can you possibly stay the same and grow? Impossible. For many churches this becomes the break point.
In the church world, we often confuse change in facility, program, ministries, approach, etc. with change in our doctrine. Let’s be clear on this one. Nothing of what I write suggests any change in your doctrinal beliefs. You have a set of beliefs grounded in scripture that do not change. The Bible never changes. The communication of the Bible changes all the time. Helping the Body understand that is part of your job as the senior pastor.
Can you change the Prayer Room into the Junior High Game Room? When you can do that you know you have a church culture of change. In most churches that would cause a revolt. Your role as pastor is to help coach and teach the Body and other church leaders about the role of change in the life of the church. By the end of the day you want everyone at your place of worship to be confident in saying that the only thing constant around there is change.
3. A Culture of Ministry to Young Families – This is the one that, when not understood, can get some of the folks at your church worked up. But hear me all the way through on this.
Which demographic of people is most likely to make decisions for Christ? Any idea? That’s right. Children. The younger the person the more likely it is that they will make a decision of this magnitude. The older the person the less likely it is that they will make this decision.
We of course believe that all persons are of value in God’s eyes. As church leaders, however, it is critical that you create in the minds of those both inside and outside the church a culture of strong ministry to young families. First, these families are not brand loyal. They don’t care if you are Independent, Presbyterian, Baptist, or whatever. What they care about is, “What do you have for my kids?” We can view that as self-centered and certainly it is. Our job is to be smart and create a culture for young families to feel like the church really cares for them.