Change Your Church Culture… in SIX MONTHS?

Conventional wisdom says that changing the culture of your church will take years.

DNA is hard to change.

But it’s a nasty proposition.

Change the culture too fast and everything blows up.

Change the culture too slowly, and you’re probably not going to be around to see any of the church.

But is there a better way?

There was recently an interesting case study article reported on at the Harvard Business Review that says if you’re going to change your culture, do it quickly.

It cites a couple of business examples where culture of an office was changed remarkably in 6 months!

That’s pretty incredible.

But here’s the disclaimer:  it takes a plan and some iron-clad leadership.

I’ve seen the culture totally change in my church over the past 18 months. We’ve introduced a lot of change fairly quickly.  It’s taken leadership.  It’s required some really tough decisions (not all of which have been popular).  But the end result is pretty remarkable, at least at this point.

(Of course the longer discussion was the five years of discussion about the culture needing to be changed before we actually had the guts and leadership to start changing it).

The lesson for me is this:  don’t expect change to come to your church’s culture overnight.  It won’t happen.

But don’t underestimate the result of good leadership and how quickly your culture can change dramatically under the right leaders and plan.  It can happen much sooner than you think.

What’s been your experience?




  • Arlan TenClay December 2, 2013 Reply

    As a specialized Transition minister for the past 16 years my experience fits exactly the description here. Someone has said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. So the local congregation leaders need to be willing to 1. see through the fog, 2, determine to lead Biblically not what “the people” want even though their friends and family might be the obstacles and 3. discern and pursue a clear sense of direction toward a healthy, disciple-making, reproducing future.

  • Paul Redding December 12, 2013 Reply

    Business model Christianity with a “Change Agent” no less. MEH

  • Peter D. February 10, 2014 Reply

    EVERY church is different, and for some, swift change is necessary to continue. Yet, for others, drastic change is not needed. I work with ‘distressed’ churches periodically. The number one problem I have experienced in these churches is indifference toward one group – indifference and intolerance of children and youth by an increasingly older and dying generation. Number one question that must be posed to these congregations is radical, but must be asked. “Why do you hate children”. It is harsh, yet a valid question. With the help of some brainstorming, we turned around a church like this. The average age of the church was 74 and the church was 80% women over 70. We started “Grandmas Mission”. The target? Young children that benefit from the love of a grandmother type. IT WORKED. This church has turned the tide, and is now multigenerational. There is more to be done. Following Jesus is about relationships. It starts with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is one thing that has not changed. Building relationships with biblical enforcement is the best formula and has nothing to do with worship styles or anything else. The ideas expressed here are just from me. The answers are often simple. The problem is people who complicate the gospel and make growing a church more about business than relationships.

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