What are some of the intangibles that distinguish healthy churches and organizations from unhealthy?
Often, they are the things that go unseen, unsaid and undone that make an organizational culture unhealthy. Of course, leaders that care deeply about the people they are leading don’t let the important things go unseen, unsaid and undone.
With that said, let’s go there. Sure, it’s uncomfortable to talk about these realities. My “cringe factor” is real high just writing this!
However, it’s much harder to live and lead in an organization where they are tolerated, keeping the focus on the “insiders,” and compromising the ultimate mission to “Go make disciples.”
Here are 5 Things Healthy Churches DON’T Do…
No.1 – Healthy churches don’t do drama. “Drama Kings and Queens” need not apply from paid staff, team leaders to event volunteers. How do you define drama? Keep reading.
No.2 – Healthy churches don’t do “needy.”
Let’s be clear.
Meeting real needs of real people is central to what the Body of Christ does to bring God glory and witness the Gospel to the world.
The “needy” we are talking about are much different.
Needy people need, and sometimes demand, attention and recognition. When they don’t get it, they make their presence known by making messes or creating relational conflict until people are forced to give them the attention they crave.
Their feelings are easily hurt and people feel they have to tread lightly around them. When they are present, momentum is easily derailed as attention shifts from the task at hand to their wishes, wants and hyper-sensitive feelings.
This is unacceptable, certainly for any level of leadership.
The only thing more unacceptable is enabling it.
Before going any further, consider that some needy people may truly need help, perhaps professional Christian counseling? If their attitude and behavior persist, consider approaching them with a trusted church leader about what may be behind their emotional needs. Sometimes it is simply a cry for help that needs our compassionate response and a referral to someone that can walk them through a Biblical path to healing.
The deeper problem with the wrong kind of needy is that it is very attractive to others who are needy. When “Drama Kings and Queens” are given center stage, you create an organizational culture that is unattractive to mature, servant-oriented, get-it-done kind of people.
Teams or groups dominated by neediness stay inward-focussed, stuck, and ineffective while things like momentum and morale are sucked into a “Black Hole” of drama.
This doesn’t have to happen.
Carey Niuewhof says it well, “A healthy culture spits out toxic people. And a toxic culture spits out healthy people. Here’s the surprise. No one gets kicked out, they just leave when they can’t get traction or validation.”
Healthy leaders create environments where the “atta’ boy!” and the simple affirmation we all need just comes with the territory. Opportunities are created to train, resource and especially to honor staff and volunteers.
A good slogan to adopt, mantra to repeat and culture to create among the leadership sounds like this…
“We do needs, we don’t do needy.”
No.3 – Healthy churches don’t do complaints. It’s not that people won’t complain. And, constructive criticism is altogether different and welcomed. However, when the right climate has been created, complainers quickly sense that their whining has fallen on deaf ears. Complainers simply stick out like the sore thumbs that they are.
Instead, constructive outlets are created for genuine issues to be addressed. For example, a place for suggestions on your weekly Connection Card or a tab for confidential questions and suggestions on your website? Or, better yet, a safe culture of communication is created where people know they can share their hearts with one another, with team leaders, elders and pastors in person without fear. NOTE: Most of these “heart to heart” meetings should be scheduled in advance so all can prepare.
No.4 – Healthy churches don’t do gossip.
It’s been said that, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Ask yourself and your lead team, your small group or Sunday School leaders, “What do you talk about when there’s nothing to talk about?”
Gossip also happens to be sin. Talking ministry as leaders and how we influence and impact it is one thing and we must be willing to “speak the truth in love.” (See Ephesians 4) We see this throughout Scripture, Old Testament and New.
Mature followers of Jesus simply don’t go personal on people not present. And, no, it isn’t okay when framed in the form of a “prayer request” or followed by the classic disclaimer, “Bless their hearts.” It’s just ugly, despicable, sin.
When any leader hears gossip rear it’s ugly head, it gets chopped off with a firm “rebuke.” It sounds like, “Listen, they aren’t here. This isn’t our business. This conversation is over.”
Again, purpose environments of encouragement, genuine prayer and safe places to express concern for others and the ministry as a whole.
No.5 – Healthy churches don’t do “space wars.” Sure, there are both shared and specific spaces and environments created, outfitted and resourced for targeted groups on most church campuses. However, when there are little skirmishes over these spaces, resources, tools, toys and equipment, this is a tell-tale sign of spiritual and organization immaturity.
Consider utilizing tools such as Planning Center Online Spaces and resources can be planned for, shared and cared for with excellence in order to help others succeed in playing their part in the greater vision.
What unhealthy intangibles have you identified and dealt with on your way to creating healthy churches and organizations? One thing is certain, an unhealthy culture does not and should not be tolerated, not with the effectiveness of fulfilling the Great Commission at stake.
Let’s hear it! Share your thoughts below in the Reply section…