SHAPING YOUR CULTURE……. By what you create or what you tolerate


I was recently reminded of the valuable responsibility leaders have in shaping the culture of their organisation. They can shape their culture intentionally, or they can shape their culture by default.

This important lesson was brought home to me when I listened to a presentation by Danny Meyer, the CEO of a restaurant chain in America called Shake Shack. He spoke of how he chose to define the way he would shape the culture of his restaurant by “shaping the way that people would feel when they dined in one of the Shake Shack restaurants.” And it all started with the interview of prospective staff where staff are appointed not just for what they can do, but according to six key emotional skills they need to live out as employees of a Shake Shack restaurant. The six key emotional skills that staff need to possess and display are:

  • Kind heartedness and optimism
  • Curiosity
  • Work ethic
  • Empathy
  • Self-awareness
  • Integrity

All these emotional skills add up to a high HQ – Hospitality Quotient. For Shake Shack believes that their staff are most satisfied when they make someone feel better. So what lessons can we learn for our churches from a story such as this?

  1. Churches, like restaurants, have cultures that are shaped by values. Eric Geiger said, “Culture is the shared values and beliefs that undergird all that a church does.”
  2. Leaders of churches are responsible for defining and guarding the culture of a church.
  3. Leaders must model the culture of a church and be selected based on the emotional skills (values) that shaped the New Testament Church. It all starts with the leaders because churches ultimately become like their leaders.
  4. New members’ classes need to include teaching on the culture of the church and provide an understanding of the emotional skills that are to characterise the life of church members. They need to know that being a member of the church is accompanied by the conviction that people are most satisfied when they help others to feel better.
  5. Attractional churches have attractional cultures that attract people.

Perhaps this principle can best be summarised by the words of Jesus when He said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35.

Jesus’ command reminds us that we are entrusted with the important responsibility of intentionally creating our culture and not just tolerating our culture.
Question:   What is the HQ of your church?