An Important Look into Your Church’s Culture – Part 4

In our last blog in this series, we talked about finding a few specific targets that could potentially be within reach of your congregation. Now, before we unveil the next step, it’s important to verify that we’ve chosen targets that matter.

If we were more friendly would that make a difference? If we truly began to love each other wouldn’t we be a healthier church? These are valid targets.

If we had a bigger or better building isn’t going to make much difference if the gang inside isn’t worth joining. If we had that one great program or ministry outreach may not be a good target either, especially if those who would be running it lack a heart for others.

The best targets are those that speak to the character and behavior of your congregation. Unhealthy churches are typically the product of unhealthy people. Of course the reverse is true too–healthy people make healthy congregations. So, if we can take a few quality steps as people, the results will begin to show in our congregation.

So now for that critical next step…Armed with a good target or two, look around the congregation and see who is already living what we long for. Who IS friendly? Who ALREADY seems to love others. Find those who are modeling what you need more of in your church and join them, encourage them, applaud them, and begin opening leadership doors for them.

In my travels, I have found such people in even the smallest, seemingly most unhealthy churches. They certainly aren’t in a majority and typically their good spirits aren’t encouraged by the rest of the congregation. Instead, they tend to be in the background as the grumpy folks leading most ministries don’t seem to want them too involved. They can be seen as naive in their desire to see outsiders too quickly welcomed or just plain foolish in their kindness toward those the rest of us know will take advantage.

But these people are there…and they need to be moved more to the center of your leadership effort. Why? Because these people already demonstrate the values that need to take over your church. You see, churches can jump from vision to vision, but values don’t change easily. Some have said that it takes a generation to change peoples’ values (and some churches don’t have that much time). These people already demonstrate the much needed values and they need to be affirmed (so they’ll continue) and celebrated (so others can be influenced by their attitudes).

In the most difficult churches, people who live by the right values are that church’s future, regardless of their current role or lack of history in the congregation. And, as the leader, you need the encouragement these friends provide to help you overcome the disappointing attitudes of others.

So, this important step is easy to understand. Find the people that act like the rest of us should and draw them close to you, add them to your leadership team (if possible), and do all you can to encourage their critical contribution to your church. I realize that, like elementary school, ornery people demand the most attention. Unfortunately, the ones who get the most attention tends to reproduce themselves. So turn that reality on its head and let those with the best values be more visible to others. Soon, you’ll have those others wanting to be more like them.

There’s still a lot more to discuss in the journey of turning such challenging congregations in a better direction…see you next time.

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