Article by Teresa Chang
As church leaders we must realize it isn’t necessary for prophetic cultures to constantly “shoot from the hip,” so to speak. We can be prophetic and good stewards of our time, energy and talents. We can be prophetic and produce excellent material, products and resources that benefit the people we are trying to reach.
Remember, culture is the shared values, priorities and practices, along with the traditions, symbols and expressions that unite a community. Your culture reflects who your church is at a deep level. As you clarify your values, you establish your priorities—things that are more or less important for how you spend your time, energy and resources. Out of your priorities emerge your everyday practices (things you naturally do on a day-to-day basis). Each of these individual “steps” works to establish a culture of excellence in your church.
Here are a few other things to consider as you build your church culture:
1. Determine your values and priorities.
Culture reflects the lifestyle of the senior church leader and leadership team. Therefore, the first step in cultivating a culture of excellence is for you to look at your own values and priorities. Determine the values that promote excellence, such as the glory of God (that which clearly reveals Him) and generosity (which clearly models stewardship and relational integrity). What you value is the intangible basis that helps you determine what is truly important to you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I thinking about my people developmentally?
- Am I taking the time to work with them?
- Is my desire for excellence in the church integrated into my values, priorities and practices as a leader?
2. Share the vision for change and excellence.
As a leader, give your people a vision for excellence and infuse them with the values and priorities that will help them become promoters of excellence in their own right. You can begin to instill a culture of excellence in your congregation through personal interaction, public preaching, testimonies and the ongoing celebration of excellence wherever it is found.
3. Be excellent in what you do as a church.
Focus on building a culture that allows people to develop and grow from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). One way to do this is through inspection. It’s a good idea to have at least three sets of eyes read everything you publish, both printed material and anything that will appear online. That may seem like a simplistic idea to you, but if you find 10 typos on someone’s website, what will happen to your respect for that organization? It will go down. Mistakes happen, but the more we keep them from happening, the better. “Small” things like typos work against a culture of administrative excellence.
As another example, issues with bookkeeping will also lead people to question a church’s administrative excellence. Keep superb records and inspire your people to do the same. Try to consider excellence in practical ways. If your ushers are not in place or if your announcement people aren’t in tune with the congregation, these are inconsistencies that will eventually have a significant effect on your presentation. All of these issues are important.
The ministry of excellence also includes practical structures such as serving the poor or running the bookstore or food program. Encourage these structures, and whenever possible model excellence for your congregation.