Creating A Culture
Where People Want To Stay
By; Pastor Paul Edlin (Wainuiomata Baptist Church – “Life Impact Centre”,New Zealand)
In the Gospel of St. John 21:15-17 , Jesus makes two statements and repeats them three times:
1st statement ~
Verse 15: “Simon, [Peter] feed My lambs.”
Verse 16: “Simon, take care of My sheep.”
Verse 17: “Simon, feed My sheep.”
Above all things – people matter. Even if they don’t yet know it – people matter a whole lot to God.
2nd statement ~
“Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me?” Jesus repeated the question three times.
When God speaks He’s telling something important. When He says the same thing twice He really wants us to get it. But when God makes the same point three times, you can be certain of one thing – this is not negotiable. When you put the two together, obviously our love for God is measured: “Do you love Me?” Yes! Then prove it by “Feeding My sheep.”
Question: So what on earth does that have to do with “Creating a Culture Where People Want to Stay?” Everything!
Jesus meant for the Church to grow! It is normal for your church to grow!
New sheep should continue to come into the church and stay. God does not have an alternative “Plan B.” The “church” is it. Not only is growth normal, but He put within His Church the seed for it to grow. The seed represents potential; DNA. That’s the good news.
But here’s the challenge – and so many churches miss this truth:
When Christine (my wife) and I took over the leadership of our church six-and-a-half years ago, we inherited a church that was declining [and had been declining for five years]. The people who were left – all 47 of them [I know because I counted] – were lovely folk, but the truth is, they had lost their way. It wasn’t so much what they were trying to do that was wrong – it just was not working. And to their credit [and for this I honour them] they knew something had to change
Change is not your enemy. If you do “change” it can be your best friend. A Pharisee or religious person would say “But Paul, God doesn’t change. He’s ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’” (Hebrews 13:8 ). I say, “I agree. But He is also creative. He’s the Creator.”And if I’m not willing to be creative, nothing will change.
I am always critiquing what we do. If it’s not working I’ll change it. For example
Over the past few years I’ve come to realize something... “Churches don’t fall into decline; they’re led into it!” They’re led into it, either through bad decisions, hasty decisions, or no decisions. Conversely, churches don’t fall into growth. They’re led into it. And they’re led into it through leaders who have the courage to embrace change. Not change for the sake of change. But change for the sake of the Kingdom! Change is good news – it attracts people. (Bad news stinks.) As one commentator put it: “If you find yourself sitting astride a dead horse, for goodness sake, dismount.”
To create a culture where people want to belong you have to be prepared to lead change.
2.Create a Culture of Biblical Values
Question: Why values? They set the tone and atmosphere of your church.
· If you don’t deliberately create the culture, it will create itself.
Question: Why? Because a culture does what a culture is. If you allow a culture of gossip, guess what will happen – gossip!
So, in your church, you set the culture by determining your values. In our church I expect my people to honour leadership; I expect them to do ministry with excellence, and I expect them to be gracious – at all times. Outside of those values they can do what they want.
3. Build a Culture of Faith
God-inspired faith –
· “Sees the invisible; Believes the incredible; Receives the impossible!!”
Let me share with you a story: “A man slipped and fell off a cliff while hiking on a mountaintop. Luckily he was able to grab a branch on his way down. Holding on for dear life, he looked down only to see the valley floor some fifteen hundred feet below. When he looked up it was twenty feet to the top from where he had fallen.
Panicked, he yelled, “Help, Help! Is anybody there? Help!
Question: What is faith? Faith is not the absence of doubt. It’s the presence of belief!(Mark 9:24 ).
The nature of Faith is that it believes for what it cannot see!
Question: So how do you create an environment for it to grow? Encourage people to dream. Encourage people to dream big dreams. Impossible dreams! Create a culture of crazy dreamers. If you lead in the safety of the status quo – you will limit God incredibly.
Don’t fear! When God gives you a vision, He also gives you the provision needed to fulfil that vision.
All He requires from us is that we believe Him for it. That’s not pride, or “mind over matter.” It is faith tapping into the resources needed to do what God has called you to do.
Build a culture of faith.
4. Believe in and Release the Right People
Here’s a truth:
“Our potential for failure is equal in proportion to our potential for greatness. In regards to leadership, your greatest asset is not the people around you. Your greatest asset is the right people around you” [Jim Collins in “Good to Great.”]
Whether someone is the right person has more to do with character traits and natural ability than with specific knowledge, or skills.
Some tips re- an Assistant Pastor:
God doesn’t call those He’s equipped. He equips those He’s called.
If you don’t give people the opportunity to grow, you’ve limited them, limited your church, and limited the Kingdom of God.
Question: Will they make some mistakes? Absolutely! And so did you! Choose wisely certainly, and then give them the freedom to fly.
5. Encourage Your People to Become Attractive
Become attractive on the inside. Some people go through life changing faces depending on the occasion. I will let you into a secret:
Don’t be fooled. People will interpret you by your spirit about three seconds after they have met you.
Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees:
“You look great on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones” (Matthew 23:27 ).
Becoming attractive is an act of surrender – Surrendering your spirit over to His Spirit. That’s why David prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ). He understood that real beauty comes not from without, but from within.
To create a culture where people want to stay . . .
6. Build a Climate of Trust
Pastor. Leader, There is no short-cut with this one. Do you know why? Trust is not a Biblical command. Nowhere in Scripture am I commanded to trust you, or you me. I am commanded to love you. But I am not commanded to trust you. The real challenge with that truth is,without trust you’re not going to build anything!!
Question: So how do you create a climate that builds trust?
You have to keep your word!
You have to learn to delegate!
Ecclesiastes 4:9 ~ “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.”
Sure, people need boundaries [knowing what is acceptable and what is not]. People need guidelines [job descriptions, etc.] to identify upper and lower limits. But notwithstanding that you need to delegate and let them fly.
Pastor/Leader: You need to own up to your mistakes.
Nothing builds trust more than when you make a mistake and your people see you take responsibility for it.
7. Preach the Truth of God’s Word!
Some of the preaching today, when examined, is “a teaspoon of truth in an ocean of error.” Biblical preaching is not always popular, but it is life-giving because it’s “truth.” That is what Jesus meant in John 8:31-32 :
“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Any time someone claims special revelation from God that does not line up with Scripture – run in the opposite direction!
You say, “That sounds a little harsh.” So is surgery, but it will save your life!
8. Believe in the Holy Spirit!
Folks, if you’re serious about creating an environment where people want to belong, you need to believe in the Holy Spirit!
There is only one way God builds His Church as we lead, and that is through the Person and Presence of the Holy Spirit!
It’s the Holy Spirit that brings revelation, enlightens, empowers, convicts, renews, restores!!
“But the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things.”
I’m not smart enough, or gifted enough, to grow His church without His help. God Bless You!
"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry. PO Box 57, Paraparaumu 5254, New Zealand.