Three Tips for Implementing Culture Change In Your Church (Part Four)

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This post is the continuation of a series:


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Sean Martin: One of the pushbacks of this new ministry mentality in the past five years has been the idea of implementation. What would you say to a busy pastor who has read the book, his mind is changed, but doesn’t know where to start?

Tony Payne: I would say to him maybe three things. I’d like more time to talk it through with him, this answer is very very short.

First of all, it can change the way you do what you’re already doing. It won’t be something you’ll have to add on. It can change the way you preach, as we just discussed. It can change your preparation and how you present your material. And you will start to build an expectation withy our people of what to do with your material. You can change the stuff you are already doing and start to change the culture from the top down.

Secondly, in terms of changing the culture from the bottom up—and I think change has to come from both directions.

I’d recommend that you start with seven or eight people, who are a “guiding coalition” —even the theory of culture change in the secular world works like this as well. You gather a group of people who are your allies in change, they might be a council, your elders, or a new group, and that you take time—it might take you twelve months—to clarify and work out together what is your vision of ministry and where are we going to go with that mission. Unless you have a group around you who are your allies and supporters, coworkers, who you start to influence and train, you probably won’t start to see any lasting change.

Thirdly, with that coalition, you have to get down on the ground and start working with people. Start with an existing group—a men’s group or a Bible study that has potential, and start working with that group to see culture change.

That answer is brief and inadequate, and is why Col and I have done more work on laying out how that might happen more systematically over time, the steps you might go through. It’s got to be top down as well as bottom up.


Next time we take a brief survey of movements of vine work in church history and discuss the dangers of calcification.

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