Growing up in a dysfunctional culture seemed normal to me. I don’t know any of your backgrounds or family history; but mine was quite interesting. One thing I’ve noticed about people who grow up in unhealthy environments is that they are more than likely prone to live out that same unhealthy culture as adults. After all, that’s all they know. If you grow up in poverty, you’ll have a poverty mindset. If you grow up in a culture of divorce or addiction, many seem to repeat those patterns. It doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them, it just means your culture has to drastically change in order to do it.
Even in a classroom environment, culture can be the difference between tapping into a young child’s potential or destroy their confidence. Unhealthy learning environments have the potential to develop unhealthy habits and patterns in our lives. Have you ever seen a beautiful flower grow in a closet? It’s impossible due to the fact the environment or culture is absent for growth.
This is why we are focusing so hard on creating the right culture in our church. As a fast growing church plant, it can become really easy to simply focus on church growth. The problem is, if the culture is not healthy neither will the church be healthy. If we focus on vision and culture the church, as a result, will grow. This is true because:
Healthy things grow.
As we focus on our efforts to Work the Soil, it’s imperative that we understand that we are creating a culture either intentionally or unintentionally. Ask yourself a few questions today about culture:
What kind of culture am I creating among the people I lead?
Do you tend to show favoritism to the people you like? Do you allow sanctioned incompetence? (being late, not showing up, not doing their volunteer work with excellence, passion, and vision) Are YOU late constantly or not showing up? As we continue to dive into intentional culture, we have to remember that it will lead to healthy teams. And healthy teams will lead to a healthy church. A healthy church will grow.
Do I create a culture of developing people?
If we want people to love what they do, love the church, and love people, we have to raise their ceiling. In other words, once people get to a certain point where apathy sets in or they feel like their gifts and talents aren’t being stretched, they will leave for something better. You can’t grow a church with people who don’t want to be there. And if we want people to serve, give, connect, and be empowered then we have to raise their ceiling. Pour and invest in those that God has entrusted to you.
Am I empowering people?
Not simply giving them tasks to do, but actually allowing them to run with the ministry. The only way to lead at a high level is to let go of things that shouldn’t be your focus. The problem most of us face is that we think no one can do it like us. They may even be true, but someone else will never learn if they aren’t allowed to do it and fail. After all, were you perfect at what you do when you first started doing it? I didn’t think so. We don’t want to create a culture where people are afraid that they will fail. We want to create a culture where people aren’t afraid to learn. Remember, you’re either succeeding or learning. Failure only happens when you give up. Let go of some ministry and allow others the opportunity to increase their capacity.
Am I releasing people?
We also tend to hang on to high level leaders because we don’t want them to grow past us. The fact is, someone out there will always do what you do better. That’s not a bad thing! The greatest mark of a leader is someone who can develop, empower, and release people to do what they do best. You may have a leader that rocks it out in your ministry. But God may have plans for them somewhere else; whether it’s somewhere else in the church or somewhere else in another church. It’s a part of the great commission to send. Be a leader who sends and enjoys watching people shine. The greatest leaders in the church that we know were mentored or led by people you have probably never heard of in your life. Those people will receive greater crowns than you can imagine!
Working the soil is difficult sometimes. But it will bring a harvest. I am praying for each of you as we all go on this journey to work the soil of our hearts, but also develop others around us. May we work tirelessly to create a culture that people want to be around and can thrive in. When we do that, people will jump at the chance to help change the world.
Changing your culture is all about changing you. I had to be taught how to not live out a dysfunctional life. I thank God everyday for the men and women He placed in my life that showed me a better way to live. As a young adult, I was a poor steward, in debt, immature in my relationships, and had an addictive personality. It’s the culture that I knew, lived in, and mirrored. But when God planted me in a healthy environment, He began to prune me and shape me. That only happened because I was planted in a healthy culture.
How’s your personal culture? How’s your family culture? What about your team’s culture? It’s up to you to make sure it’s healthy. So today, grab a shovel and a rake…start planting healthy things.