CULTURE is a word that many feel is merely a byproduct– something that just happens, whether we attempt it or not. However, I find that coincidental culture is catastrophic. What’s worse than an environment created by happenstance, with no real intentionality in the area of direction or vision? That kind of culture is not in a place to be utilized, controlled, or even evaluated. It merely creates a place for people to exist. I would hope you are never pursuing a place for others to occupy but a culture they can personify.

My call as a leader is not to stop at building a gathering of followers but to develop a group of owners, which is far more of a cultural byproduct than you may realize. Owners operate from a place of empowerment, making decisions and developing your ministry/organization. Followers are like my puppy, always available, panting by your ear, waiting for you to throw them a “bone.”

So, if culture is more than just atmosphere, how do we create it?


1.      Culture is created by what you CELEBRATE.

Catchy phrases branded as “core values” have run rampant through churches and organizations over the last decade. Many leaders try and add value through acronyms such as
H – honesty
E – excellence
A – accountability
R – respect
T – teamwork
While that may sound nice, I wonder how often we hear a phrase like “we’re not a crowd; we’re a family.” We enjoy how it makes us feel, and choose to adopt it on the spot, declaring it a perfect value for our culture!

In this declaration, if you continue championing production over community, a packed room over personal development, or events over intentionality, your prior culture will remain. If I promote a phrase while celebrating the alternative, those mixed signals will confuse even my most dedicated leaders. Confusion murders healthy culture. However, clarity of vision and value, accompanied by the proper celebration of both, leads to a thriving organization.


2.      Culture is created by your environment of COLLABORATION.

“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” To that, I’ll add Show me your collaborators, and I’ll show you your culture. Culture does bleed from the top down, but those closest to you carry it. I have seen so many leaders (and been one myself at times) that have championed individuals who make them feel valued rather than leaders who carry virtue.

Remember, we want owners, not followers. Too often, a promotion gets handed to the follower who can play the part, not the owner who can program the play. While the simple advancement of a person may feel harmless, every promotion is attached to a platform, and every platform produces culture. Intentional culture-creators are careful to draw close only individuals who embody the values of their organization.

Hopefully, there was a nugget or two you can take away as you pioneer your personal and/or organizational culture. Please respond with any questions, comments, or further conversation. Thanks!


Pastor Sam Grosso