Culture is the operating system that whirrs and hums in the background of any church. It is the unwritten handbook of rules and guidelines of the social game that is passed on to newcomers as they acclimate to a new church environment (Hofstede et al., 2010). Churches, as well as other areas of society, have a remarkable capacity for conserving their distinctive culture (Hofstede et al., 2010) despite the constant influences from outsiders and social pressures. Even as the numerous forces of change bombard a church’s culture and possibly changes the surface, the look and feel, the deeper layers remain stable and the culture endures on (Hofstede et al., 2010).
This may be encouraging for ministry leaders to hear, however, the question needing to be asked is, are the cultures within churches built on the reflection of Christ and the mission he has entrusted the Church to carry out, or are they built on the traditions of an establishment that has ceased to be effective in making the name of Jesus known to the ends of the earth?
There is a need to understand the cultures that exist within the church and evaluate if they are effectively meeting the call of God. One tool that makes this possible is the Organizational Cultural Assessment Instrument (OCAI) that uses the Competing Values Framework. The Competing Values Framework has a high degree of congruence with well-known and well-accepted categorical schemes of organizing how people think, what they value, what they assume, and how they process information (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). Understanding the culture that exists within a church provides leaders with the understanding of how to be most effective in the community they serve.
What is the greatest blindspot for church leaders when evaluating their cultures they oversee?
Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework (3 edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival (3rd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.