What is culture? What does a good culture look or feel like? How do you build a good culture? These are all great questions, but they can be hard to answer for most people. A good culture can mean having quality volunteers, happier staff, fewer mistakes in services, and a greater sense of accomplishment. Whether you meant to or not, you’ve helped build a culture for your team. Is it a good one? There are a few key reasons you should focus on intentionally building a positive culture.

I Barely Have Time Get Everything Done Now. Why Should I Focus On This?

I know how it feels to have a full plate. The idea of adding one more thing can overwhelm us. At MediaShout, we’re getting a lot done with a small team. But, we spend a lot of our time talking culture. Why? Because we all work faster and at a higher effectiveness when we’re not scared. Fear can freeze us or make us hesitant to try. And it can come from many places. There’s the fear of making a mistake, fear of someone talking bad about us, and the fear of letting someone down. These things can cause us to stop trying. So, we intentionally talk about building a positive culture to remove all fear from the organization. These ideas can be applied to your Church media, worship, pastoral, or educational teams. They’ll all benefit from a positive culture whether they’re volunteers or church employees.

Okay, So How Do I Build Positive Culture?

First, think about what makes you feel safe in other areas of your life. Security is the opposite of fear, and it’s the most important part of a positive culture. I know that I feel safe when someone loves me. And when I know they appreciate my hard work. And when I know they want what’s best for me. This is how you should make your Church team feel.

1) Show Them You Appreciate Their Work

Use every opportunity you have to talk about your team in a positive way. Are you having a meeting with Deacons or a committee? Find a way to tell a recent story about how your team has rocked, or brag on a specific team member. (Try to change up which team member you brag on each time.) With your media team, tell a story about how quickly a new volunteer has learned and how other volunteers have stepped up to teach them. I’m sure there are many stories you could tell if you look for them.

2) Show Them You Want What’s Best for Them

This is often about simply being interested in their lives and being willing to change plans or make an effort to improve their lives. Flexibility can be key. Keep up with what’s going on in your team’s lives and be proactive if you see a conflict coming up. Do you have a team member with a major life event approaching? Offer to find someone else to cover some of their responsibilities. Do you have a team member struggling to feel connected to the church? Maybe you could give them more time to participate without leading. If someone asks to change their responsibilities, listen to their reasons. That alone shows you care about their situation.

3) Show Them You Love Them

Ultimately, this is all that matters. Remember that the Bible says our love should be patient, kind, trusting, protective, and keep no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This isn’t true just for marriages. We should love our team equally as well. When someone makes a mistake, responding with love means having patience and trusting that they were doing their best. When scheduling your team, be kind with how you do so. Ask and don’t tell team members when to be somewhere. And, if you have to ask a team member to move on from their position, you should do so with love and caring. Explain what went wrong and how they could improve. If they get upset, respond in a patient way. Not only is it important to treat that person with love, but the rest of your team will be watching how you handle these situations.

4) Show Them You’re the Protector of Their Culture

Once you’ve worked so hard to build a positive culture, you’ll want to protect it! The best way to do this is to talk about the culture with your team. Explain to them why you think it’s important that your team have a certain culture and ask them for their help to maintain it. If they feel like they’re part of the culture, they’ll want to help protect it. When someone says bad things about another team member, the rest of the team is more likely to help correct the other’s behavior (in a loving way). So, the whole team ends up protecting the culture.

Sometimes, protecting the culture means you have to remove a team member from the team. I recommend giving them plenty of warning about their actions beforehand. Loving someone means giving them the opportunity to improve. But, if someone is unwilling to improve their attitude or how they act toward others, then they can’t be part of your team. One bad attitude on the team can ruin the culture for everyone.

5) Show Them by Example

Culture isn’t built overnight. You’ll have bumps along the way, and you’ll need a lot of patience. Some team members won’t understand when you start talking about culture. That’s okay. Just take it one step at a time. Keep showing them the benefits and lead by example. I promise, it’s worth it. You and your team will be better for it.