The culture you want doesn’t just happen, it is caught. 

I was talking to our intern this week and she was asking why I was rearranging the room from the normal set up of our weekends. She asked, “Do you have to do this?” I said, “No, but if I don’t we won’t get the atmosphere we want. Culture doesn’t just happen, it’s caught, and we have to be the ones who set it.”

We cannot just assume that the ministries we see via the internet (which the internet only let’s you look at a portion of that particular ministry) and we think, “Man, how cool is it that their students do ________. Why don’t ours? Their leaders do _________, why don’t ours?” Fill in whatever blank you want. 

This conversation got me thinking about this last 2 years of me being in my current position. The last 2 years I would say has been the toughest yet most rewarding times in ministry I have had to this point. We have seen and experienced a completely culture shift. We are not their yet, but we are on our way to a healthier and vibrant ministry?


As I look back, our team has set the culture. We have been very intentional with everything we have been doing, with how everything has been done, communicated, how the atmosphere looks and feels, to the music that is played and how we worship and tell stories in service. We, as a team, have modeled what we want to see. What gets celebrated gets repeated. After 2 years we are JUST NOW beginning to see the culture we desire. 

If you want a culture of inviting people? You as the leader be inviting people to come to church and tell stories about it and then give your students an opportunity to invite students to something. That is what our ONE NIGHTS are for. 

If you want students to have blast and worship passionately? Don’t sit backstage but go in the front and model to them how to worship. Get your leaders off the walls (which we had to do) and get them to model what worshipping looks like. If you want students to jump around, you jump around. If you want them to know it’s okay to raise their hands, show them it’s okay.

You want a fun and inviting atmosphere? You have to fun and inviting to your volunteers and they will be with students. Our team tries and sits down with our leaders at coffee or lunch once every six weeks or so. I ask our leaders 1) How are they doing? 2) How are they doing in our ministry? 3) Can can we help them to do what they do better? Then I say to them, “This is what I want you to do with students.” After 2 years, we are starting to see leaders take students out and be in their lives outside of our Wednesday nights.

What’s my point?

You do it.

You do it, do it consistantly and tell people why.

Enforce it. If something goes against it (which something will because change brings tension), it’s your job to keep the culture you want. This will help people see that this is important and this is the culture you desire.

You as the leader set the tone of what’s to come. The hard part about setting the type of culture you want is that it takes time. It takes a while to catch. People will always wonder why you are doing what you are doing but once it does catch, it takes off and there is momentum that cannot be stopped. If you want something in your ministry, you do it. You lead it and tell people why….. tell them a lot because people forget. 

It’s been a long and fun two years and I’m excited to see where God takes us this year as the culture we have been hoping for looks like it has finally caught. It takes a lot of work but let me tell you, it’s always worth it.