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20 Signs of an Unhealthy Church Staff Culture

Unhealthy Church Staff Culture

Management and leadership expert Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  So what is culture? There are many quality definitions but I will give you mine: Culture is the collective character, competence, and creativity within your organization that drives day-to-day behavior and results. Within every industry, there are healthy and unhealthy cultures, even churches. After witnessing the behind-the-scenes activities of hundreds of churches, the following are 20 Signs of an Unhealthy Church Staff Culture I have noticed.

Before getting to this list, it is important to note that cultures are usually the embodiment, the physical manifestation of the organization’s leader.  So goes the leader, so goes the people.  Now onto the list.

1. Sin Is Not Addressed In Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures.  Leaders are not held accountable to living Godly lives.  Personnel preferences are elevated above personal holiness.

2. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Have Inappropriate Communication.  This would include insensitive comments, crude language, dismissiveness, tearing people down, or even yelling.

3. Unhealthy Church Staff Culture Have More Conflict Over Collaboration.  The staff has silos and assigns blame for failed or missed opportunities rather than having an “all hands on deck” approach to major initiatives.

4. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Value Potential Over Production.  The value of individual staff members is based upon affinity and cliques rather than who actually delivers results.

5. The Past Is Not Honored In Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures.  Senior adults and others who built the church are marginalized.  Today’s staffs stand on the shoulders of those who came before them and invested their time, money, energy, and very lives into their church.

6. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Degrade Staff In Front Of Other Staff.  This is a complete sign of disrespect, not to mention a self-examination of sin in someone’s own life.

7. People Are Continually Late For Meetings In An Unhealthy Church Staff Culture.  Tardiness is a sign a person feels their time is more important than others’.

8. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Are Arrogant And Assumptive.  No one knows more than they do. They do not gather information at one level before making decisions at their level.

9. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Have Unhealthy Inner-Circles.  They gather information from the wrong people and sources before making decisions.

10. Unhealthy Church Staff Culture Have No Long-Term Strategy.  Many pastors and staff in a COVID-19 world struggle seeing farther than two weeks out.

11. Unhealthy Church Staff Culture Avoid Important Decisions.  Passivity erodes trust and confidence in the staff.  Many times the worst decision you can make is no decision.  People value clarity over accuracy during these times.

12. Unhealthy Church Staff Culture Are Impulsive.  This is a sign of emotional instability or lack of self-control.

13. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures View People As Commodities.  They value processes over people.  People are simply a means to an end.

14. Unhealthy Church Staff Culture Do Not Listen To Each Other Or Those In Their Congregations.  They have all the answers.  Opinions and insights of others’ are not valued.

15. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures’ Meetings Are Uninspiring.  Rather, the meetings are deflating and only survived.  Here’s a test – track how many people are reading their phones or doing other work during meetings.

16. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Continually Resurrect Past Mistakes.  This shows a lack of grace.

17. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Think Money Solves All Issues.  When you can buy solutions, it masks inefficiencies and often injects embalming fluid into creativity and innovation.

18. Leaders Are Not Empowered In Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures.  Everything must be run through and approved by senior staff.

19. Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Micromanage Processes Rather Than Outcomes.  If the mission is achieved, celebrate.  In fact, if someone does something different than you would have but the job still gets done, perhaps it is a chance for learning and innovation.

20. MOST IMPORTANTLY Unhealthy Church Staff Cultures Omit God From The Day-To-Day Decision-Making Process.  You base decisions on everything but a biblical decision-grid.

As a pastor or church leader, how many of these apply to your current culture?  While this may be a sobering exercise, it is also a mirror which shines a light on the opportunities you need to work on.

This article originally appeared here.

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Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.