Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 18

Church Values Analysis

In this lesson, learn about leading a healthy church culture by analyzing current church values and developing a strategy matrix for desired values. The lesson introduces five handles for analyzing the values, including what leaders model and teach, how scarce resources are allocated, what behaviors are rewarded, what is measured, and how leaders respond to crises. The lesson concludes by applying four embedding mechanisms to model, teach, allocate resources, and reward behaviors that align with desired values, as well as measure progress.

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 18
Watching Now
Church Values Analysis

Lesson: Leading a Healthy Church Culture

I. Analyzing Current Church Values

A. Five Handles for Analysis

1. What do leaders model and teach?

2. How are scarce resources allocated?

3. What behaviors are rewarded?

4. What is measured?

5. How do leaders respond to crises?

B. Identifying Actual Values

II. Developing a Strategy Matrix for Desired Values

A. Establishing Desired Values

1. Considering the church's core focus

B. Applying the Four Embedding Mechanisms

1. Modeling and teaching desired values

2. Allocating resources to support desired values

3. Rewarding behaviors that align with desired values

4. Measuring progress towards desired values

  • This lesson covers the importance and characteristics of a healthy church culture, the biblical foundation of church culture, diagnosing the health of a church culture, and cultivating a healthy church culture through prioritizing relationships, creating a safe environment, nurturing spiritual growth, empowering the congregation, and celebrating God's work.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the characteristics, and importance of a healthy church culture, how to diagnose and address unhealthy church culture through biblical leadership and communication, and how to cultivate a healthy church culture.
  • You will gain insight into how to lead a healthy church culture by learning about the importance of healthy leadership, building healthy relationships, establishing healthy structures, and implementing healthy practices.
  • In this lesson, the class discusses a fictional case study called "The Shadow of a Leader," which describes the decline of a Christian leader named Dr. Robert Avella, who became obsessed with power and control over time, causing damage to the ministry and losing trust in his team, as they reflect on the early and later stages of his leadership.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the challenges and pitfalls of leadership, particularly when leaders lose focus on their spiritual values, become driven by fear and control, and lack accountability and community support. By understanding these factors, you can recognize and address toxic leadership in various contexts.
  • By engaging with this lesson, you will gain insight into the complex dynamics of power and control in leadership, the prevalence of misused power within the Christian church, and the critical importance of fostering accountability and community to maintain a healthy balance of power.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' unique leadership style in the context of the foot-washing event in John 13:1-17, highlighting principles such as leading from a secure sense of self, addressing the deepest needs of followers, and paying it forward through service to others.
  • This lesson teaches you about the significance of developing a Christ-centered church culture, including the exploration of culture's components and the positive and negative aspects it can have within a church setting. You will also learn about the role of leadership in building a healthy church culture, adapting to change, and overcoming challenges.
  • This lesson provides insight into church culture by examining its components, revealing how assumptions and values impact products and practices, and discussing the importance of addressing these core beliefs and assumptions for lasting change.
  • This lesson examines assumptions and worldviews in church leadership by comparing different mental constructs and their influence on leadership values and roles, while also exploring the machine metaphor's impact on organizational life and the new generation's response to this worldview.
  • In this lesson, you learn the importance of cultivating and nourishing people in a garden model of leadership, comparing it to the machine model, and discovering how various biblical metaphors shape the understanding of the church. Emphasizing core beliefs and values, you realize effective leadership focuses on following Christ and maintaining the right attitudes.
  • You will gain insights into the importance of leadership in creating a healthy church culture, including the role of leadership in setting the tone and creating an environment that fosters spiritual growth, discipleship, and healthy relationships. You will also learn about the characteristics of a healthy church culture, practical steps for building a healthy church culture, and the challenges and obstacles to building a healthy church culture.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the importance of creating a healthy church culture and practical steps for doing so, including the role of leaders in modeling and promoting a healthy culture, building relationships, developing a shared vision, fostering communication, and encouraging accountability.
  • This lesson covers Luke 5, gleaning lessons regarding Jesus' leadership and the four pillars of Christian leadership, which are relationship, influence, follower potential, and common purpose.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about the four primary handles for developing a healthy church culture, which are stories, rituals, symbols, and power structures, and how they shape the values that become the real values within a culture.
  • By understanding the importance of what we measure, we can determine what is significant to us. Measuring something objectively makes it valuable, while not measuring something can result in losing its importance. The example of churches measuring attendance and donations is used to highlight this point, and the lesson suggests that churches should also measure other important aspects like outreach, discipleship, and community service.
  • This lesson discusses how Jesus prepared his disciples to establish the church, and how his actions and values during his time with them set the groundwork for the culture of the church; you are encouraged to explore the principles Jesus instilled in his disciples by examining specific stories, such as the healing of the demon-possessed man and the clearing of the temple.
  • Learn to lead a healthy church culture by analyzing current values, identifying actual values, and creating a strategy matrix to establish and support desired values using four embedding mechanisms.

This course is one of many taught by Dr. Rick Sessoms. It can be taken as a stand alone course, or as a part of the Christ-Centered Leadership Certificate. 

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Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Church Values Analysis
Lesson Transcript

As we think about these five handles, what I'd like to suggest if I were working with a group and those of you that are following us online, you may want to work with your church group, and I would encourage those of you here to do the same, there's a handout here that I want to share with you. It's what you're seeing on the screen here, and it's a way to work through your current church values, what to analyze. What are your current values of the church? And because as we talked about, the values are going to determine the products and practices, and the values largely determine how your church culture looks. So, the simple questions are laid out there. What do our leaders model and teach? And as you think through those scenarios, you simply answer those questions. And then how do we allocate our scarce resources? Simple questions to ask, but maybe not simple ones to answer. What behaviors do we reward? What do we measure? And how do our leaders respond to crisis? 

As you work through the answers to those questions -- and I would encourage an exercise to do that with the church leaders -- as you work through those, you'll begin to see, as you answer these and as a collective, you begin to see what values really begin to emerge. What are the real values, what are the actual values of our church? And then you simply list those. What are your current church values? And you may find that those differ a whole lot from those that are officially talked about. You may find that those differ greatly from those that are publicized and maybe put on a wall somewhere or stated in a nice, orderly fashion somewhere in the church, you know, in a policy manual or something. But the first step with using these handles is to analyze, to determine what are our values, and it's simply by asking the questions, what are the answers to these five handles? Does that make sense? Do you follow that?

It's a simple process, but it takes time to work through, and again, as I've worked with groups, we would spend as much as two days on this process, so it's not a small task, but it is something that's hugely important for the local church. Then finally, once you have determined what your actual values are through analysis using these five handles, then the five handles can become a strategy matrix, and here's how it works: What do you wish for your church to value? So, you have what your church actually values. Now, what do you wish for your church to value? And as you think about that, as leaders, then to use the desired values strategy matrix, and it's really quite simple. It's a complicated word to simply state as you work through this, you simply fill in the blanks for the first value. Let's say you want to value evangelism. people coming to Christ. lives being transformed by the power of Christ. Well, the first question then is what will our leaders model and teach? How will they go about modeling and teaching that value? And then secondly, how are we going to allocate our scarce resources if we want that to be a value of our church? And I was working with a church recently and they said, we really want to value prayer, and so we simply worked down through and answered each of those questions of what behaviors will we reward and what will we measure? And we become very specific about those so that our values become part of our strategy. Does that make sense? And that's how it works. 

Now, you'll notice that in the analysis, there are five handles. In the strategy, there are four. The reason that we've dropped the one out about responding to crisis, you can't plan for that. As a crisis happens, you have to be prepared for it, but you can't plan it, so it's not a strategy of how you work with crises. Does that make sense? So, there are really only four embedding mechanisms, the handles that we are suggesting here. So, you simply determine what your values are that you want. And by the way, I would suggest any church, if you have more than five or six values, it's too many, and I've seen churches with 15 or 20 values. It's really tough to get your arms around all that, so I would suggest that you think, what's the core of who we are and what we're about? And let's focus on those. If you work through this process faithfully, and the first step is acknowledgment, is analysis, and then determining where it is that we want to go and what kind of a culture do we want to reflect, and then begin to ask in applying these primary handles in that process these four questions: What will our leaders model and teach? And we're talking to leaders here. How will we allocate scarce resources? What behaviors will we reward, and what are we going to measure going forward. As we work through those and have specific answers to those questions, we will see the values begin to shape, as God has intended for us to do that within our organizations. So, that's in essence what it is to lead a healthy church culture, and I trust that this has been helpful for you.

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