Here’s a fact: The culture we live in is changing constantly.
Here’s another fact: Churches rarely adapt quickly enough to changes in culture in order to have a relevant voice.
The truth is that societal culture change happens like shifts in a weather system — they’re frequently unpredictable, quirky, short-lived and sometimes extreme.
Organizational culture change is more akin to steering a cruise ship: It happens slowly and on purpose.
There are people out there who might say that this is a bad thing, but it isn’t. If organizational culture could change on a dime, how many churches out there would have replaced “Friend Day” with “Pet Rock Day” and would have looked foolish? There’s a reason why organizations change slowly … in order to prevent misguided shifts.
The problem happens when an organization simply decides that it will never change. When this happens, the church has set a course that will inevitably end in destruction.
Here are three main roadblocks that keep churches from choosing to change their culture:
When a church or organization has decided that its best days are in the past, then it is unlikely to change. Cultural change requires that every person on the team believes in a better, brighter, more successful future.
When the eye of the organization is set forward, the organization will begin to think outside of the past.
When a church has decided that a particular practice — not directed by the Bible — is immovable, immutable and fundamental to the organization, it will not change.
Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle calls this “methodolatry.” Culture change is impossible when an organization places a method or methods on a pedestal, believing that the method is more important than the mission.
Every organization has the “squeaky wheel” individual who wants to disrupt every single plan. It’s good to keep that guy around, because he often thinks of the loophole that everyone else forgot.
However, when an organization lacks a unity of mission and values, it will be unable to change. Cultural change requires every member of the team to have the same goal in mind. Even a “squeaky wheel” can make objections and still have the same desired outcome.
Cultural change is difficult in all situations. But when churches are facing the roadblocks listed above — it’s impossible. Organizations must find ways over, around or through these roadblocks before they can achieve the cultural change that is needed to have an impactful voice in today’s ever-changing society.
For more on evaluating and changing church culture, see Dr. Aubrey Malphurs’ new book, Look Before You Lead.