We talk a lot — a lot — about process here at Church Community Builder. It’s something we’re pretty passionate about. It fuels our products and our services, and we’re always looking for ways to make our existing processes better — both in how we develop our software and in how we work together.
But if you don’t have a solid organizational culture on which to build your processes, they’re never going to work. Your culture has to determine your process, not the other way around.
Some church leaders come to us believing that our software will fix the problems they’re having with connections and engagement. They’re not great at following up with visitors and new attenders. They recognize this problem, and believe our software will fix it. And it might — we’ve got great tools to help leaders connect with visitors and keep track of their engagement. But the church’s culture has to value followup and connection in the first place. That culture must be strong enough to motivate staff to be fully committed to the work it’s going to take. If those pieces of your culture are missing, no software in the world will help.
Other church leaders think our software will improve their discipleship efforts, and it definitely will if it’s populated with the data about who is serving, who is giving, and who is connecting through small group ministries and other discipleship efforts. But if the church culture doesn’t place a high value on tracking data and looking at the trends the data is showing them, software won’t help, no matter how powerful it is.
So, what creates the kinds of culture that truly result in changed lives? Here’s what we’ve observed while serving over 4,000 churches, many of whom do this stuff very well:
- Your leaders: Culture has to come from the top down. Whatever your leaders value and demonstrate, your whole organization will too. The leaders’ primary responsibility is to infuse your culture and your values into everyone who’s serving alongside them. Your church’s culture should be so embedded into your entire leadership team that even if someone moved to another role or church, you wouldn’t miss a beat.
- Your vision: Your church’s vision has to be your church’s vision. It has to be what your church believes God has uniquely called your church to do. It can’t be a vision statement that you saw on another church’s website and really liked. It must be yours, and your whole congregation has to own it. If you don’t, your culture won’t be authentic and anyone coming into your church for the first time will know it.
- Your people: Your church staff has to be fully engaged in your culture. They’re the front line when it comes to living it out for your congregation, and are also your first line of defense when things start to bubble up that could compromise your culture.
If your culture isn’t a strong one, no amount of process improvement is going to help. Culture has to precede process in order for things to really work in your church. If you’ve got a strong cultural foundation, your church is set up to accomplish amazing things that will only be improved by stronger process.
How would you rate your church’s cultural foundation? What are you planning to do to improve it?