An Important Look Into Your Church’s Culture – Part 6

In the challenge of helping your congregation adopt some new values, you have to accept that preaching new thinking seldom can be a sufficient strategy on its own. We’ve been considering the path forward, especially for struggling churches, and usually the congregation’s values need some adjustment.

Of course, we’re not speaking of the values that we willingly say “Amen” to. Instead, we’re discussing the ones we actually are living. You see, it’s our culture that often gets in the way of the effectiveness of a new vision or new ministry efforts.

To help values begin to change, you need to identify the behaviors that would reflect better values and help your people behave their way into new thinking. Sometimes by doing a new thing our hearts can be captured and our minds will ultimately catch up.

For example, once when I was pastoring, I was concerned that our once-friendly congregation was losing its grip on such a value as more people came into the room. I can’t know everybody was keeping some of our gang from making the effort that used to come so naturally. So, I made up an activity and asked my leaders to join me in trying it.

I asked them to join me in three commitments each weekend at church. First, I asked them to MEET someone they had never met before. I also asked them to PRAY with someone when they saw the need/opportunity, whether at the church altar, in the hallway, or in their Sunday school class (or promise to when they heard about a need). Finally, I asked them to find a way to HELP someone, whether that’s carrying a diaper bag, helping a child find a restroom, or whatever other way they could offer assistance to someone attending our services.


I called it our M-P-H strategy and told them that every time we’d do this we would be gaining speed to becoming the church we desired to be. (I’m sure you already made the miles-per-hour connection.) Additionally, I printed small cards where they could write the names of those they met, prayed with, and helped each week and asked them to turn in a card each Sunday.

The results were remarkable. Before the exercise, I had my team complete a short survey, measuring their commitment to our values. That way I could measure any changes in attitudes by giving them the same survey after our M-P-H experiment was completed.

After six months of trying the M-P-H effort, significant changes could be seen. The team’s commitment to our values had risen markedly (statistically significant increases in 2/3 of the survey questions, if you’re interested in such things). But even more, the environment of the entire church had changed. Others enthusiastically joined in. Several told me they were going to keep doing M-P-H every week, even after we stopped collecting cards. (Makes me wonder why we did.)

The point? If you can find a fun and engaging way to help your people choose new behaviors, you may also end up helping their values to be reshaped. One of my deacons went from being socially shy and hesitant to welcome new people to a willing door greeter, happily serving alongside his more outgoing wife. He would say that he is forever changed! That’s what changing values can do, and sometimes you just need a little behavior nudge to help people get there.

So what’s a new attitude or value you want to see emerge in your congregation? Try changing what we’re doing as a step toward changing what we’re thinking and you’ll likely reach your goal much more quickly.

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