News and Views

Tools to Change Church Culture

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If nothing seems to change in your congregation despite your best efforts and great strategies, chances are a “stay-the-course” mentality or an unhealthy culture is to blame. While usually taken for granted and often misunderstood, the culture of a local church influences everything that happens (or can’t happen) and can inhibit health and lasting change.

In a recently published book, Empowering Leaders: Tools to Change Church Culture, The Rev. Andy Lunt and Ted Brown have provided a guide to transforming the culture of a congregation.  In his forward to the book, the Rev. Dr. Lovett Weems says “the authors offer a rich resource for congregations and their leaders to engage today’s circumstances with confidence and hope. They build their work around three essential components of any lasting change.”

The first, and in many cases most difficult, ingredient is to embrace and implement the empowering and equipping of laity for ministry. Clergy and laity working together as partners is vital before adding the next two components. When either clergy or laity try to “do it alone” the result is usually competition, hurt feelings, and little discernible change.

The second ingredient in the change recipe is a renewed focus on purpose and identity. These become a uniting force and drive every decision and action. With laity empowered and a clear sense of purpose and identity (for the church, for each of the ministries/committees and for each individual) it then becomes possible to engage in the hard work of discerning and changing culture (behavior based on deep-rooted values and unwritten social norms) – the third ingredient.

Lunt and Brown devote chapters to each of these essential components and conclude each chapter with specific tools to accomplish the steps.  The framework, methods, and tools cited here have been adapted from leadership and culture change in the secular world and successfully used in churches.

The uniqueness of this book comes from blending two independent experiences and observations – one a lay perspective and the other a pastor’s perspective – and from the provision of tools that are made available for download free of charge to readers.

In summing up his forward, Weems says that “Lunt and Brown bring distinctive and varied experience and perspectives to their writing. You will benefit from their wisdom and practical guidance. They believe in the church as God’s instrument in the world for redemption and grace. They also believe in the ability of ordinary leaders to do extraordinary things through a dedicated group of laity and the power of God. Remember that all of you are leaders, and that leaders help God’s people take their next faithful step.”

Andy Lunt is a retired BWC pastor and Ted Brown is known to many as a coach for the Financial Leadership Academy and Academy for Church Finance sponsored by the Mid Atlantic United Methodist Foundation.  Empowering Leaders is available online as both a paperback and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple books.