To Change the Culture, First Submit to the Culture

My friend is now working at a very large megachurch. He’s tasked with starting new things in this very big church, a church with a unique culture.

This is a big change for him. He has planted churches and started Gospel communities. He’s gone from culture creator to culture steward and that’s been a BIG shift. He sees great opportunity in his new role but also realizes it’s a very different culture and isn’t sure how to navigate some of the change we wants to make. Oldnew

This is a questions I hear from leaders all of the time.

Every organization has a culture. A culture is how organizations do things. (There are other definitions but let this suffice for our purposes.)

Sometimes we get opportunities to enter a new church or environment and change things. Wanting to change things to get better results is great — this is what leaders do. Often times, to see better results you need to change the culture.

But to change the culture you must first submit to the culture. Change requires credibility.

It’s a mistake to enter a new culture and start critiquing it and changing things before you understand the values, narrative and behaviors of the culture. You can’t change what you don’t understand. And to properly understand the culture you must first submit to it.

I am not sure how long this needs to be for you? It could be several months. It could be a year. The point is it will take a little time to submit…but not too long.

So how do you submit to the culture?

  • Understand the real values of the culture. (Not the stated values for sometimes there is a BIG difference.)
  • Listen during meetings without offering opinion.
  • Read/consume all of the communication of the culture (email blasts, website, social media etc.).
  • Endeavor to understand how things REALLY work.
  • Don’t try to ‘fix’ anything.
  • Don’t compare to what you once did somewhere else.
  • Talk to the culture creators (leaders and managers).
  • Talk to people who live and work in the culture.
  • Understand the stories of the culture (the narrative).
  • Understand the behaviors of the culture. (Do they align with the values.)

Great and lasting change comes from within the culture, not outside of it.

Change requires credibility. To change the culture, first submit to the culture.

What about your? Do you have any advice for my friend?

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The Filter Phrase

What is your filter phrase? What’s the phrase you run everything through so that you stay focused on your mission? filters

For many of us in NewThing its ‘helping people find their way back to God’ or some derivation of it. You see, we really believe that when people come to know Jesus through a local church. And that changes everything.

As a church planter you want to be sure that everything gets filtered through this phrase. Even the most basic and mundane of things need to pass through the filter.

  • Should we start a second location? Filter it.
  • Should we outsource our accounting? Filter it.
  • Should we buy that piece of equipment? Filter it.
  • Should we have a fundraiser for the student program? Filter it.
  • Should we start a second service? Filter it.

Notice that it’s not only the big things you need to filter but the small as well. Why? Because everything you do or buy or designs needs to be about the one thing–your mission to help people know Jesus.

No doubt–Filters can be annoying and frustrating.  But you need a filter phrase if you’re going to remain on your mission.

What about you? What is your filter phrase that you use to remain on mission?

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Learn to Count the Yeses

When it comes to church planting, so many of us dwell on the NO votes. When rolling out something new, challenging people to the next level, or trying to get something done, you will find detractors. These will be the NO votes. And we count them. Boy, do we count them.

  • No votes are the people who don’t show up.
  • No votes are the people who won’t get involved
  • No votes are the people who tell you that you can’t, or shouldn’t, or they won’t…

The fact is that in church planting you’re going to take a lot of risks. You’re going to push. And that means your bound to get lots of NO votes. And the NO votes can stop you from living out your Kingdom potential.

We need to learn to stop counting the NO votes. Instead, we must learn to count the yes votes. Yes

  • Yes votes are the people who show up.
  • Yes votes are the people who get involved.
  • Yes votes are the people who tell you they’re in.

The yes votes are the ones that should drive our strategy and tactics. The YES votes build the Kingdom.

The no votes are entitled to their vote–just not any influence.

What about you? Do you tend to count the NO votes? What’s it gonna take for you to start counting the YESES?

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Be Strategic About Asking for Feedback

Last weekend I visited a few NewThing churches in Kansas City.

I had a blast catching up with the staff and lead pastors before and after services. These planters are doing great things for the Kingdom and I was humbled to have the opportunity to celebrate with them and their churches all of the cool things God is doing. I left each church inspired.  Feedback1

But what was in my inbox the next day really inspired me. Both lead pastors asked for feedback. They wanted my opinions and insights.

In fact, they wanted it fast–while my memory was still fresh.

And both knew exactly how to ask for feedback:

  • Tell us something that we’re doing right that we need to do even better…
  • Tell us something we need to improve upon asap…

These guys know I am their biggest fans and that I love them. That’s why they can trust my feedback.

There’s no point in asking for feedback from people who aren’t going to be truthful. Nor is it wise to ask for feedback from people who just don’t care. And that’s why you need to be strategic about who you ask it from. Sure, some of the feedback might sting. But it will also help you grow.

I hope you see the value of asking for feedback. Because unless you’re asking for it and giving people permission to be honest with you, you’re never gonna get it.

What about you? How do you determine who you ask for feedback?

I’ve written about feedback here.

I’ve written about being teachable here.

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