I’ve been reading “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: 7 Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration” by Samuel Chand. In his book, Dr. Chand lists 5 types of organizational cultures found in churches. Based on my experience over the years, I’ve seen these characteristics play out in the culture of healthy churches and churches that aren’t so healthy.

5 Types of Church Cultures


1. Inspiring

  • Inspiring cultures create an atmosphere where staff and volunteers bring their “A” game every day.
  • Inspiring cultures are built on trust and respect.
  • Authority is decentralized and the direction is clear.
  • Inspiring cultures place a high value on creating a healthy culture and developing people on the team.
  • They have high but realistic expectations.
  • Creativity is rewarded and failure is viewed as a stepping stone for growth.
  • Turf wars are eliminated and synergy is evident.
  • Stories of success are frequently celebrated.


2. Accepting

  • Accepting cultures are generally positive but some difficult decisions are avoided which creates tension on the team.
  • They typically have clear goals and strong relationships.
  • Generally, most people are supportive of the other folks on the team.
  • They tend to allow incompetent leaders to remain in their role too long.
  • Accepting cultures do invest in developing people and building the culture but not to the extent that inspiring cultures do so.


3. Stagnant

  • Stagnant cultures often start strong but over time they lose energy and begin to stagnate.
  • Team members are only valued when they produce. Very little praise is based on the character of the team.
  • Team members tolerate their leaders, but don’t trust or respect them.
  • People tend to protect their turf, fight for power, and limit communication.
  • Complaining becomes the norm and small problems quickly escalate.
  • Leaders try to control their team by micromanaging them.
  • The status quo is accepted and responsibility is avoided.


4. Discouraging

  • Discouraging cultures suck the life out of their people.
  • They live with unresolved problems and unhealed wounds.
  • Self preservation and self protection is prevalent.
  • The organization becomes all about the power and prestige of the top leaders.
  • People spend more time trying to survive power struggles then they spend doing the work of ministry.
  • Supervisors use threats and their authority to demand compliance and loyalty.
  • It is extremely difficult to implement a new vision because nobody cares.


5. Toxic

  • Toxic cultures create a “closed system” where no new ideas or advice are allowed in.
  • They breed bad ideas, bad behaviors, and bad values.
  • People are expected to do as they are told…nothing less and nothing else.
  • They have high expectation of team members but offer no autonomy to make decisions.
  • Fear dominates the organization.
  • Open turf wars are accepted which results in suspicion and resentment throughout the team.
  • Leaders delegate responsibility without authority.
  • Creativity and risk are seen as threats.


According to Dr. Chand, “Culture—not vision or strategy—is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there.”

What kind of culture are you creating? If your church doesn’t have an inspiring culture what steps can you take to begin to change the culture? Feel free to leave your comments below…



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6 thoughts on “5 Types of Church Cultures

    1. Lincoln, I have as well. Have you experienced a church cultures shift from one type of culture to another…either good or bad? If so, what caused the shift?


  1. Our Pastor gave us a book when our daughter tuernd 3. It’s called My Place at God’s Table . We homeschool and have daily devotions time integrated into our schedule and along with doing a child friendly devotion we also read a short passage out of our bible and we read this nice book that explains the significance and meaning of communion. Alyvia started taking communion shortly after we were given this book and I know she generally understands the concept but she is also growing daily in her relationship with Christ. I don’t feel it is a tradition I feel it is an important part of Lyvi and Christ Jesus’ realtionship that I am nurturing in His name daily.Shylo recently posted..


  2. If the church’s culture is inspiring, then what inspires it? Should culture at large define what we do and how we do it as church leaders? The pressure of external culture can affect what type of internal culture the church has, but the X Factor for the church is how the Bible and Holy Spirit define the church’s culture. Is culture just a vehicle to growth, or is there deep relational aspects to it that lead to biblical community and evangelism?


    1. The simplest definition for culture based on this post is “the way we do things around here”. Every church has a way of operating. They have reasons for doing every program, tradition, practice, etc. A lot of times, the reason boils down to “that’s just the way we do things around here”. That’s what I mean by culture…the behavior and norms of how the church operates.
      No, the culture at large should not be shaping the culture of the church. A church’s culture is shaped by vision, values, ministry philosophy, traditions, language, systems, measures, and behaviors. Hopefully this is driven by Biblical principles and Holy Spirit direction…but that’s not always the case. An inspiring church culture would result a healthy church and lead to biblical community, discipleship, evangelism, and yes, growth.


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