Messages: Culture is intentionally shaped as the right messages are consistently and clearly communicated to the staff, church leaders and membership

How Intentional Are You in Building a Healthy Church Staff Culture?

In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Pete Scazzaro provides a helpful assessment for senior level church staff to get a sense of how intentional they are in building a healthy church staff culture. Below is an adapted version of the assessment with suggested action steps. Next to each statement, write down the number that best describes your response.

Use the following scale: 5 = Always true of me; 4 = Frequently true of me; 3 = Occasionally true of me; 2 = Rarely true of me; 1 = Never true of me

_____ 1. I invest in my staff, both in their ongoing spiritual formation in Christ and in their professional development.

_____ 2. I directly and promptly address “elephants in the room” (tensions, lateness, hostile body language, sarcasm, unkind remarks, distance, silence, etc.).

_____ 3. I consider healthy spiritual rhythms and loving union and communion with Jesus as the indispensable foundation for building a healthy staff culture.

_____ 4. I explore and ask personhood questions when my staff are highly reactive, or emotionally triggered, rather than ignore them.

_____ 5. I negotiate differences, build bridges and clarify expectations when there is frustration and conflict on my staff.

_____ 6. I consistently communicate to my staff in ways that are clear, honest, respectful, and timely.

_____ 7. I am intentional to set aside time and space in staff meetings to instill particular values (e.g. Scripture, expressing appreciation, sharing new insights on church leadership).

_____ 8. I dedicate the necessary time to explore the root causes of staff inappropriate behavior and substandard performance, seeing it as a spiritual formation opportunity.

_____ 9. My staff experience me as willing to take the time to “tune in” and listen to them.

_____ 10. I ask specific questions about the quality of my staff’s marriage or singleness because it is a key factor to build a healthy staff culture.

If you scored mostly ones and twos, you are probably have not given much thought to, or perhaps received much training in building healthy church staff cultures. Becoming aware of how what you do—and don’t do—affects the staff around you is an important competency for church leadership. You might take a first step by listing the desires you have for your staff culture. Read carefully in The Emotionally Healthy Leader the four characteristics of healthy church staff culture, picking one to focus on and apply in your own setting.

  1. Work Performance and Personal Spiritual Formation are Inseparable.
  2. The Elephants in the Room are Acknowledged and Confronted.
  3. Time and Energy are Invested in the Staff’s Personal Spiritual Development.
  4. The Quality of Staff’s Marriages and Singleness is Foundational.

If you scored mostly twos and threes, you are somewhat engaged in healthy church staff culture building. The reasons you’re not more engaged could be anything from a lack of priority or vision, to an aversion to conflict or a lack of understanding. Take a few hours to prayerfully reflect—alone or with others—on your staff culture. Make a list of the characteristics and values that presently describe your staff culture. Then make a second list, noting the values, desires, and dreams God has given you for your staff. Identify three to five specific steps you can take over the next three to six months to bridge the gap between your current culture, and the staff culture you envision.

If you scored mostly fours and fives, congratulations! You are building a healthy church staff culture and are well positioned to multiply yourself so that others can lead and develop the culture of their own teams or departments. Consider putting your perspective on healthy church staff culture into writing for others or teaching it to your staff so that new staff can fully “own” being part of your culture.

Posted on July 4, 2017

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5