Culture can either be intentionally cultivated or it will cultivate itself. The problem is that when culture cultivates itself it does not turn out well.

When I first entered ministry I had a somewhat clear vision of what I felt like God wanted us to do as a ministry. That year and moving forward I did my best to communicate to the team what the vision was and how we were getting there. The truth is, it didn’t go as well as I planned.

Ministry was going fine. The problem was that the culture in the ministry was cultivating itself. I along with the rest of the team were operating on different wavelengths and producing results that really didn’t line up with where we were headed. Ministry was happening out of a reactive heart instead of a proactive one.  This was not entirely bad, but over time the culture of the ministry became dependent on what we did not do instead of what we did.

After a few ministry seasons of ministering in an environment where culture was cultivating itself I made the decision to take a big step back to analyze where the problem was.

After seeking the Lord and consulting with my mentors I decided that how I did ministry needed a reboot.

I made the decision to start cultivating the culture that was cultivating itself.

The truth is we all have been at this point in ministry where everything looks like an overgrown garden. Vegetables are growing but are hidden by all of the weeds and overgrowth.

Maybe you are finding yourself in a similar situation. Ministry vision is not as clear as it used to be, team members are acting independently, and no really knows how they should lead. There are good things happening, but they seem to be overshadowed by the bad culture that has formed.

Do not fear. You are not alone. In fact, I’m sure our experiences are not that different.  Here are 5 ways you can cultivate culture in your ministry:

  1. Clearly communicate vision. Vision leaks and it must always been communicated. Send videos sharing the vision. Post the vision in an area your team will see. Have members from your team share the vision to your team.
  1. Live out values. Your team not matter how big or small has values. Find out what those values are and circle the echoes. Once you have nailed down the common values, live them out! Create leadership lessons from each of these values to share with your team. Again, post them on posters for your team to see. Reference them as much as possible! Sharing stories of how the values are being lived out on your team will be a huge winner!
  1. Share the “WINS”. This can be done as simply as finding a chalkboard, dry erase board, or just a board and writing the word win in the middle. Wins are simply small steps toward the vision that each team member witnesses. Challenge your team to look for wins, write them on a post it note, and stick it to the board. As the year goes on everyone can see how the vision is being pursued by each win posted. This is great opportunity to encourage leaders when you see them WIN.
  1. Leadership competencies. Set out 4-5 areas that you want to build into your team. I use discipleship, people development, collaboration, stewardship, vision, and strategy. Tell the team that these are the areas you build into them and use these areas to help you plan your leadership development trainings.
  1. Exit interviews. When the leader enters your ministry you should let them know up front what the culture looks like to see if they are good fit. Most importantly, when a leader moves on there should be a exit interview that takes place. This is a time to celebrate that leader and get a clear understanding of what your culture produces.

These are just 5 ways I cultivate culture in the ministry God has entrusted me with. I would love to hear how you cultivate culture!

by Luke McClain,  Ministry Leadership Contributor / Youth Ministry Director and Leadership Coach

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