How Words Can Help Change Your Church Culture

Words create worlds.  Language shapes us and forms us.

For example:  When I say, “Let’s go to church,” what does that statement reveal about my understanding of the nature of the church?

Sometimes as leaders we are called to help people move from one deeply held perspective to another.  Words help make that shift possible.  Words build a staircase that allow people to move from where they are to where God wants to lead them.

In leading that kind of “perspective shift” at the Church, I recognized that a portion of our staircase was a little shaky.  It needed to be rebuilt.

Let me explain:  in pursuing a God-inspired vision which we call “One Church, Regional Impact” many have asked, and to some degree are still asking, “Why?”  I began to recognize that some did not understand the “Why” behind the “What”.  I realized, because of my work with Auxano, that this was a Values issue.  Words create worlds.  In this case, words articulate the answer to “Why?”

Here’s how we define Values as Missional Motives at the Church:

“In any given day there are a thousand things clamoring for our attention, a multiplicity of motivations that move us.  What we value will either direct us back toward center or divert us from what is truly worthwhile.  Values are the motivational flame of the church.  They are the shared convictions that guide actions and reveal our unique strengths.  These motives answer “Why do we do what we do at our church?”  They are springboards for daily action and filters for decision-making.  They distinguish our philosophy of ministry and shape our culture and ethos.”

the Church Leadership Guide

[Old]  Values

[New] Missional Motives – where everyday life becomes so much more

Growth – We value a lifelong journey with Jesus that results in individual growth and kingdom expansion.

Ordinary+ because ordinary people connected to Jesus share in Christ’s extraordinary mission.

Relational Service – We value people and the opportunities to meet their individual needs as an expression of the Gospel.

Step+ because simple steps guided by Jesus accelerate the impact of new life.

Authenticity – We value genuine relationships and a sincere Christian lifestyle/behavior.

Friendship+ because friendships infused with Jesus expand the reach of true community.

Creativity – We value innovation in ministry.

Generosity+ because generosity empowered by Jesus fuels a contagious, others-centered culture.

Every Person a Missionary – We value the personal privilege given to every Jesus-follower to help others live life with Jesus every day.

Home+ because a home centered on Jesus becomes the epicenter of an active life of faith.

 

Here are 3 reasons why we are rearticulating our values.

The Motives behind our Motivational shift:

1)  Our values could be any church’s values.

They did not clearly express OUR unique motivation.

>> Ask:  What uniquely motivates your church?

 

2)  They didn’t help us answer the “Why”.

We were never using our value statements as an answer for people when they asked “Why?”

>> Ask:  As a leader in your local context, what “Why” questions are you answering?

 

3)  The words that we chose were not catalytic or compelling.

People did not want to speak them out loud.  They did not inspire anyone to participate in creating the culture that those words were trying to shape.

>> Ask:  Are your values serving as a motivational flame for your people?

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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