Student Ministry

Changing Your Culture

This is tough one.  You can easily incorporate a 30-day challenge, but when you’re faced with the daunting task of changing a culture, that’s a whole different beast!  In fact, I would say that it  might be easier to create a culture as opposed to having to change a culture.

Your first thought might be, well, we really don’t have a culture.  That is a common misunderstanding.  You do have a culture.  You might not be responsible for creating it, but trust me, you do have a culture!  So, one way or another, a culture will be created; we can stand by and admire what we have created, or we can (as many of us do) remain frustrated, bitter, angry, depressed, and on and on and on…because of the culture that we’re witnessing.

Several months ago, my wonderful youth team and I began having some difficult conversations about the current culture of our student ministry.  During a monthly staff meeting, we targeted and identified several important issues that we felt needed to be addressed.  These were not just mere policies or procedures, but they were cultural issues.  I began consulting with my Senior Pastor, and after a couple of meetings with him, felt like we were on the right track.

In the aftermath of us presenting our cultural shifts, here are several things that I have learned:

  1. We must be intentional.  If we are not intentional with the kind of culture that we want to see created in our churches, ministries, even families, then a culture will sprout up on its own, many times resulting in a culture that we later regret having.
  2. We must be clear.  When we are dealing with cultural issues, we can’t leave it up to vague interpretation.  We must clearly and concisely communicate our current course, and then clearly articulate the new course and plan of action.
  3. We must be confident.  I’ll be honest with you, I was reluctant to pull the trigger on announcing our cultural shifts, but after much discussion, and more importantly, through prayer, and  the prodding of the Holy Spirit, we were able to confidently launch our new cultural concepts!
  4. We must be persistent.  The thing we have to understand, and remember, is that cultural shifts are designed for the long term, not just the short term.  In many situations, we won’t even see the results of our cultural shifts, for maybe months, or even years.  In the infancy stages of our new culture, we must persistently communicate and remind all parties involved of the goal, benefits, and eventual results of our changes.

I value the time that you have spent in reading this post.  I also value your opinion.  If there is anything that you have learned regarding cultural shifts, please share with our audience in the comment section below.