There is a disconnect in many ministries that claim to be about transformation. That disconnect is that their own internal staff cultures are often toxic, dysfunctional, and highly untransformed. It is a sickness that pervades even high-profile ministries that purport to be at the forefront of leadership and transformational ministries.

I recently worked with a very large multi-ethnic church, where I also did a culture audit. The audit revealed a deeply toxic culture within the staff which spilled over to the ministry of the church in general. The church claimed to be transformational, but in reality, its claim was wishful thinking as there was little staff health. Some staff who had left in recent years would not even step back onto the campus. 

The interesting thing was that when the culture audit findings were shared with the board, there seemed to be little concern, leading me to withdraw from my consulting with them. The church was in decline, as is often the case when there is toxicity among staff. In fact, almost every one of the 70 individuals I interviewed indicated that the congregation was on the downward side of the organizational life cycle. 

If our staff cultures are not healthy, we do not have the moral ground to claim that our ministry is about transformation. There are too many places where fear and intimidation, and lack of care for staff are the norm. It usually reflects the senior leader's lack of EQ or concern for those on their staff. It is often fueled by a leader's drive to succeed or their own insecurities. Whatever the cause, it is inexcusable and sad. And not consistent with the kind of cultures that reflect the culture of Jesus.

Healthy staff cultures are marked by these kinds of characteristics.

  • All are treated with dignity
  • Grace is extended in all situations - even when tough issues are being dealt with
  • Truth is spoken in grace
  • People are developed, empowered and valued
  • Candid discussion is valued
  • People are in their "lane" or sweet spot
  • Men and women are treated equally
  • There is a high value in helping people become all they can be
  • Leaders serve their staff to help them be successful
  • There is clarity of roles and people are given the tools to do their jobs
  • Teamwork is highly valued
  • Relationships are collegial 
  • Opinions are valued
  • Staff find their roles fulfilling because they understand the mission they are contributing to
  • There is high trust
  • Fairness is practiced in all situations
  • Appreciation is regularly expressed
How does your staff culture measure up, and where could you do better? Transformation starts at home, in our own ministries. As ministry leaders, our commitment to transformation starts with our own staff. Where there is transformation on staff, it will spill over into the congregation and the opposite is also true. 

  • Mar 29, 2023
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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