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Your Congregation's Culture

A healthy culture is important for the vitality of a congregation. These resources will support congregations in creating a strong culture.


11 Resources
From the Staff From the Staff
Resilient Congregations
On my way to work, I drive by two church buildings. One building used to be the home of a...
Appreciative Team Building: Positive Questions to Bring Out the Best of Your Team
Creating a Culture of Renewal
This ongoing series of annual education events hosted by Rebekah Simon-Peter equips...
Hayim Herring Consulting
This consulting group helps synagogues with planning, organizational renewal, decision-making,...
How to Shape Your Church's Culture
This article from LifeWay provides an introduction to understanding what defines church...
The Little Book of Healthy Organizations: Tools for Understanding and Transforming Your Organization
This concise book offers advice and real-life examples of practical ways to improve leadership...
This premier consulting agency works with churches for hiring staff, succession planning,...
Effective Staffing for Vital Churches
This resource simplifies church staffing into the "Four Core Processes": evangelism,...
Survey Finds Growth, Vitality in Multisite Church Model
This article from the Washington Post summarizes findings that show the increasing occurrence...
Vital Congregations
This study of leaders across ten faith traditions defines spiritual vitality, reveals which...
Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World
This resource shares the story of how one church in Florida was able to grow into a...

Guest Contributor

Kate White

Kate was the associate director for resources at the Center for Congregations. She managed educational resources and worked to get the best resources into the hands of congregations.

Healthy Church Culture

Even though a religious group is likely a bit different from a traditional business organization, company culture can still be important. In this case, the focus is often going to be religious culture or church culture. What does this mean for the future? What does it mean for religious organizations that are trying to grow? Similar to other companies, a church may be unable to move in the right direction unless all of the parts are working together. That is why congregations of all types might have to focus on fostering a healthy religious culture. What can religious leaders do to assess the current situation? What can leadership do to improve it? There may be several key points to keep in mind when approaching these questions.

First, when talking about healthy church culture, some people may be wondering about the marks of a healthy church. What is a healthy church, anyway? Unfortunately, toxic church culture might actually be far more common than many people realize. Church culture today runs across the spectrum. Even though religious groups would like people to ascribe to the beliefs that they put forth, it can also be good to take steps to make sure that everyone feels included.

Therefore, it can be helpful for religious leaders to keep a close eye on the current religious culture in their congregation. By focusing on religious culture, it is possible for religious leaders to get a better sense of how the religious group is doing. If people appear to have a smile on their faces and they are willing to help one another out, this can be seen as a sign that the religious group is healthy. Furthermore, if the religious group is reaching out to the local community to provide assistance, this can be another sign of a healthy religious group.

What Is Church Culture?

First, many people might be wondering, “what is church culture?” Since it can be difficult to define a healthy church, it may be helpful to take a closer look at some church culture examples. For instance, there are many religious groups out there that spend a lot of their free time helping people out in the local community. This can be a sign of a healthy culture because members of the congregation have realized just how important it can be to help out those who need it. Particularly when religious groups are reaching out to those who may be less fortunate, this type of service can go a long way toward helping improve the overall culture of the religious organization.

On the other hand, there are certain signs to look out for which may indicate that the culture of the religious group could be unhealthy. For example, some religious groups might foster feelings of suspicion. Religious leaders may state that members of the congregation have to surveil not only the local community but also other members of the congregation. And when people feel like they are constantly being questioned, under attack, and surveilled, it is difficult for a religious group to foster feelings of inclusion. This is perhaps a sure sign of a religious culture that is unhealthy.

Fortunately, though, not every religious group has to be like that. It is also possible for religious leaders to foster healthy church culture, and there are several ways that they can do that. First, religious leaders might need to encourage members of the congregation to help one another out. Second, religious leaders may also need to encourage members of the congregation to use their professional training and background for the benefit of the local community. And finally, religious leaders might also need to encourage feelings of trust, respect, and inclusion. When religious leaders are able to do exactly that, they can help place their religious group in a position to grow moving forward.

Church Culture Assessment

Many religious leaders are wondering how to recognize a healthy church, and that is where a church culture assessment can be helpful. There are numerous types of church cultures out there, which may prompt some religious leaders to be curious what type of church culture they have. By taking a closer look at this assessment, it is possible for religious leaders to figure out what type of religious culture they currently have in their own congregations.

Ultimately, there are several types of church cultures that religious leaders might want to know about:

The first type of culture is called an inspiring culture. An inspiring culture is exactly what it sounds like. Staff and volunteers strive to do their best every day, and these places are built on cultures of trust and respect. Authority is decentralized, and the direction of the religious organization is clear. The next type of church culture is called an accepting culture. An accepting religious culture is usually positive; however, some members of the team may avoid difficult decisions, which could create feelings of tension, from time to time. Usually, members of the staff are supportive of one another. Another type of religious culture is called stagnant culture, featuring people who tend to fight to protect their turf. Because these members are not working together, the religious group is unable to move forward positively. The status quo is usually accepted, meaning that responsibility and accountability are avoided. And finally, there is also a discouraging religious culture. Discouraging cultures can tend to suck the energy out of the room. There are problems that simply go unsolved, because people do not want to take responsibility for them. People are so focused on protecting themselves that they do not take the time to help one another out. As a result, the entire religious organization suffers.

Clearly, there are multiple types of religious cultures out there that may prove to be better than others, and it can be good for religious leaders to evaluate the state of their culture, from time to time. Then, if there is a problem, it can be good to develop a firm plan to solve it. That is how the congregation can grow moving forward.

Church Culture and Leadership

Ultimately, it likely falls on members of the leadership team to focus on cultural development. That is why it can also be good to conduct an assessment from time to time. Having a healthy church staff culture may be important because this type of culture filters down to the lower levels. By focusing on church culture and leadership, it is possible to highlight church leadership core values. The people at the top set the tone for everyone else, and so, religious leaders might need to think about how their attitude is impacting other people every day.

For instance, when it comes to setting the culture at church, it can be a good idea to take a closer look at the effect of the church on the culture, as it may be the right attitude, activities, and statements of members of the leadership team in the congregation that reflect the culture of the religious organization. If members of the leadership team are oblivious to what is being said, then it can be difficult for the congregation to move forward. Therefore, if religious leaders spot something that is wrong, they might need to address it as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it could potentially spread to other areas of the congregation, poisoning the entire religious group in the process.

Core Values Of A Healthy Church

It can be good for all religious groups to have a healthy set of core values in place. What are the core values of a healthy church? There are numerous examples of church values statements out there that could be helpful. There are a few key church core values examples to perhaps consider, including that:

Church cultures have to create feelings of empowerment. When people feel empowered, they are better able to stick up for themselves and others. They are not afraid to speak their mind, even if they may disagree with other people in the room. Religious cultures also have to be inspiring. By developing inspiring worship services, inspiring attitudes, and inspiring activities, the entire congregation can benefit from the actions of the leadership team. Religious cultures also have to be adaptable, as the environment is likely going to change from time to time. The religious group, then, might have to be able to change with it. By adapting to different situations, it can be possible to solve problems as quickly as possible. Of course, religious cultures also have to create feelings of respect. When people respect one another, the entire congregation can benefit.

These are just a few important core values that may have to be highlighted. By highlighting these core values, religious leaders can know exactly what they are shooting for.

Creating Church Culture

Clearly, there is a lot that can go into creating church culture. It might even be helpful to take a closer look at a church core values worksheet when developing church core values. Of course, these core values are likely not going to be simply instilled overnight, and it can be good for all religious leaders to think about how they can get these core values to provide for every area of the religious group. This can include members of the leadership team because when these core values are reflected in the leadership team, the entire congregation can know exactly how they should behave. That is how religious culture can be established.

Some religious leaders may just be thinking about the culture of their congregation for the first time, and they may not know exactly where to start. That is okay! Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources available. Some of these resources are even free. This includes resources that are available on the CRG. When religious leaders are able to expand beyond their own backyard, they may uncover new ideas that could be helpful to the congregation. Naturally, religious leaders do not have to go through this alone. There are also trained professionals out there who can lend a helping hand when it comes to developing strong religious culture, so do not hesitate to ask for help.

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