If you can get a group of people who are all working with the same set of behavior values and pulling in the same direction, there's really no limit to what a local church can do, regardless of their size.
KV: Chapter 3 of Culture Wins is entitled, "Our Kind of Crazy," (which reminded me of chapter 5 in Small Church Essentials, "Why Is My Church So Weird?"). In it, you wrote that a church’s culture doesn’t come from the pastor, like Moses with the Ten Commandments, but they’re “embedded in your people. It’s your job to figure out what those values are and work with your people to articulate them.” What challenges do small church pastors face in understanding what their church culture is? What are some key steps they can take to help turn a culture from unhealthy to healthy?
WV: Culture Wins is geared towards staff cultures. However, in a smaller church the staff is sometimes a part-time person or one person, and maybe they have some key volunteers. I think building a culture for your workforce is hard if you don't have a workforce.
However, in every church, no matter what size, there are always people who volunteer way more than they should. They are the very core of the church. It's usually that 10 percent of the members who really gives more than they should.
Pastors should start viewing those people as their staff and interviewing them as if they were going to be on staff. Build a culture with them as if they were on staff, and reward them not monetarily, but with recognition as if they were staff. Try to function like a large church pastor who has a staff of 10 people or so. I think if small church pastors can start to think about that inner ring of their church who really makes the place work as a staff, then they would begin to see a change in behavior.
The book could help them if they see that 10 percent as “staff” rather than just church members.
KV: What else would you like to say to small church leaders?
WV: You are the green berets in the Kingdom. You're on the frontline. You're doing the job that is often thankless but is perhaps most important. The majority of America goes to your kind of church, and I'm only guessing how lonely it can be. Please know people are pulling for you and praying for you. What you do really, really matters.
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