How to Establish Ministry Culture
If mission is king, culture is queen. A vital mission without an honoring culture will eventually wilt. But a life-giving culture enables the mission to flourish. Let’s learn how.
Twenty years ago God began imprinting His culture on our hearts. He did it by pointing out how weary we’d become from running “fast and furious” to accomplish our mission. And then He reminded us of things we already knew, but weren’t intentionally and actively doing.
- He reminded us that He Himself was more important than our mission, and that honoring Him was the premier aspect of our mission.
- He reminded us that He viewed us as children, not commodities, and that He wanted us to value each other as brothers and sisters.
- He reminded us how wise He was and how well He knew how to run the ministry, and that He wanted us to talk with Him about it.
Two decades later, honoring God, cultivating genuine relationships, and discerning God’s will are hallmarks of our culture—visible in and throughout any given day.
Jesus values organizational culture as well. Take a look at the behaviors He spikes out for His closest associates just before He goes to the cross (paraphrased from the book of John).
5 Aspects of Jesus’ Ministry Culture
- “Abide in Me.” (15:4)
- “Keep My commandments.” (15:10)
- “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (15:12)
- “Listen to the Spirit of Truth.” (16:13)
- “Be one, so the world believes in Me.” (17:23)
5 Steps to Establish Your Ministry Culture
- Reflect. Take some time to consider the values and beliefs that drive your ministry behavior. If you realize they’re weak or perhaps vague, ask God to bring clarity and reveal His heart for your culture. Spend time on this. It’s vital to your mission and to the people you’re serving with.
- Identify. Begin putting pen to paper, jotting down values that describe how you’d like to corporately engage with God, honor employees, help them to honor each other and your clients, how you’ll make and communicate decisions, etc.
- Share your heart. Talk with your board and key associates. Express your desire to develop a life-honoring culture, and explain what you’ve identified so far. Invite their input. Continue to form this initial understanding of your ministry culture, and then share it with your full staff.
- Enter in. Invite your staff to take very practical steps in each of the key areas you’ve identified. Again, take your time, allowing God to shape your hearts, your behavior, and the culture over time. Think in terms of months and years instead of days and weeks.
- Uphold it. As your culture becomes established, keep it in the forefront through verbal and written communication. Give fresh examples of how staffers can engage in it, allow time for it within department meetings, and ensure that everyone is included. Give new staffers time to acclimate; yet with the understanding that engagement in ministry culture is essential to employment.
Just like the air we breathe, it’s easy to take ministry culture for granted. But without it, a ministry will suffocate. That’s why developing a healthy culture is so important. A thriving Christian ministry culture is one in which individuals freely engage with their Father and each other in honoring, life-giving relationships.