I found the book to be quite good and it resonated deeply with alot of the issues that leaders face in todays church's, non-profits and in fact almost all organizations.
Warning: Please don't buy this book and give it to your staff to read until you have read it and embraced what it is saying. Culture change from the bottom up is not an option, the decision to influence and change a church's culture at the staff level and/or the congregation level needs to be taken seriously, and is no short term program or project.
That being said, Dr. Chand does a great job of helping leaders understand what some of the conversations they may need to start having in order to move on in implementing their vision's and strategies for their churches, especially those who find themself with great vision and stagnant progress.
The book outlines some basic cultures that exist and offers the starting off question what kind of culture do you have? Does your team or church have an : inspiring culture, accepting culture, stagnant culture, discouraging culture, or toxic culture. Buy and read the book and take the free online survey to find out more.
The book gives some good practical examples of how we all can change or influence our cultures, it is definitely worth the read. It is well written and not to complex and brainy. Despite my previous warning, I would recommend all church staffs be brave enough to read and discuss it together in and open and honest forum. As the Church we are all about changing lives! Let's start with our lives, our teams, and our churchs so God may use us all to impact the world.
Groundhog Day is a celebration of an old tradition - Candlemas Day - where clergy blessed and distributed candles for winter, representing how long and cold winter would be.
Groundhog Day is also a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray that popularized the usage of "groundhog day" to mean something that is repeated over and over.
Many churches find themselves in their own version of groundhog day, living out a dream and vision that was once relevant, but now is long in the past. Unwilling or unable to face reality, they are simply repeating the past over and over.
Church leaders who find themselves in this situation have an excellent new resource in "Cracking Your Church's Culture Code" by Sam Chand.
"Cracking Your Church's Culture Code" offers a practical resource for discovering the deficits in an existing church's culture and includes steps needed to assess, correct, and change culture from lackluster to vibrant and inspirational so that it truly meets the needs of the congregation.
The book includes descriptions of five categories of church culture (Inspiring, Accepting, Stagnant, Discouraging, and Toxic) as well as diagnostic methods that church leaders can use to identify the particular strengths and needs of their church.
One particularly useful section of the book deals with the seven keys of CULTURE:
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Control - it isn't a dirty word; delegating responsibility and maintaining accountability are essential for any organization to be effective
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Understanding - every person on a team needs to have a clear grasp of the vision, his or her role, the gifts of the team members, and the way the team functions
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Leadership - healthy teams are pipelines of leadership development, consistently discovering, developing, and deploying leaders
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Trust - mutual trust up, down, and across the organizational structure is the glue that makes everything good possible
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Unafraid - healthy teams foster the perspective that failure isn't a tragedy and conflict isn't the end of the world
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Responsive - teams with healthy cultures are alert to open doors and ones that are closing; they have a sensitive spirit and a workable system to make sure things don't fall through the cracks
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Execution - executing decisions is a function of clarity, roles and responsibilities, and a system of accountability
Understanding your church's culture is not an easy task. "Cracking Your Church's Culture Code" is a very helpful resource for the leader who wants to delve below the surface of church as usual and lead it to greater impact.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Leadership Network as a part of the blog tour for "Cracking Your Church's Culture Code. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Many a change initiative has been derailed in a church because a leader failed to take into account the overarching importance of organizational culture. Many a pastor has found themselves on the wrong end of a severance package because they were blindsided by the operational values of their church.
Churches and organizations have "corporate personalities"--evidenced in the oft repeated dictum "that's just how we do things around here"--and these patterns of collective behavior express the fundamental values of those who make up the group. Culture may be difficult to detect and describe but it is as real as any organizational dynamics.
I found Samuel Chand's book Cracking Your Church's Culture Code to be a great leadership development tool. He clarifies the nebulous nature of culture and helps a leader know where to begin a dialogue with those on his team. According to Chand, cultures are basically either inspirational or toxic, determined by trust and courage. Without a healthy culture, an organization will never be able to execute any of its visions and dreams.
We're accustomed to hearing how leadership consists of creating and communicating vision. We know that every vision must be accompanied by a strategy for implementation. The brutal truth, however, is that culture trumps both of these; without understanding, shaping, and managing it, vision and strategy are doomed to failure. Leaders will be left scratching their heads and wondering what happened.
Chand emphasized meetings as a microcosm of culture and helpfully demonstrates how important the first thirty to forty-five seconds of a meeting are. Leaders must be students and managers of their church's culture and he provides practical insights to that end.
For those wanting to better understand their organizational culture, go to www.freeculturesurvey.com for a free online assessment.
Back a few months ago I "attended" an online conference sponsored by the Leadership Network. One of the speakers was Samuel Chand, the author of the book "Cracking your church's culture code." I then received an e-mail about the possibility of reading the book and blogging about it, so I sent an e-mail and got picked to read the book and write about it. So I received the book a few weeks ago and spent some time over the last few weeks reading the book, pondering it's contents and wondering how it might apply to my context right now, as a church plant that is just in it's infancy.
Chand says that the seven keys of understanding the CULTURE and shaping it for the Kingdom are: Control, Understanding, Leadership, Trust, Unafraid, Responsive, Execution. I enjoyed reading the book as it is helping me to think about what the culture of our missional community is, and what it might be moving forward and how we can keep the culture healthy, missional, and seeking to move the mission forward.
Some of the quotes that stood out to me in the section that lays out the 7 keys to understanding CULTURE are:
Healthy teams foster the perspective that failure isn't a tragedy and conflict isn't the end of the world.
Courage, support, and innovation go hand in hand in inspiring cultures.
One of their chief concerns is that teams often talk about decisions but fail to follow through on implementing them (I find this a huge struggle in my own life. I feel that one of my gifts as a leader is in the area of vision, dreams, and putting the mission out there. The thing that I lack is knowing how to move step by step from where we are to where I dream us to be. I frequently say that I see A (where we are) clearly (not perfectly) and I see Z (where we want to go) (not perfectly) but I need someone to help me with B through Y. So the section about Execution was very helpful.
But I would say the most helpful, the most encouraging, and the most challenging part of the book was the chapter on "Changing Vehicles". I felt he was speaking right to me, as I continue to dream about what Veritas is called to do, be, and pursue. One of the helpful parts was the 13 questions laid out on page 139-140. Some of the quotes in this chapter that spoke to me include:
"How do you know if a vision is from God? One of the measures is that it has to be something so big that it requires God's wisdom and power to pull it off. Anything less is just a good idea. God's vision is to redeem not only individuals bu the entire creation. He's not just making new men and women; he's going to re-create the entire universe in the New Heaven and New Earth. That's a big vision! (a vision that I want to be a part of)
Churches must "re-dream" the dream or discover a new compelling vision for their existence.
Your effectiveness will always depend on your ability to see the future.
Strategic planning needs to be written in pencil because in a dynamic, changing environment, strategic planning needs constant evaluation and adjustment. (Couldn't have said it better myself)
The organization can't fulfill a God-sized vision, even in it's local market, without the alignment of people, plans, and funding around a common purpose.
If the vision is big enough, if the people have a heart for doing it, if God's will be glorified in a specific way, then the money will come. (One of my struggles as a church planter)
God has called us to partner with him to redeem the world.
I would say this book was helpful for me as we are planting Veritas. I would say this book would be helpful for any church leader no matter where the church is, no matter how young or how old, no matter how big or how small, no matter the setting. Because I believe it's easy to change "vision" (just write a mission statement, vision statement, etc..) but it's harder to change the culture. But if the culture changes, then the vision can come to fruition. So let's be in the business of changing culture (both inside the church and outside as well)