I’ve put forward a definition of culture that I find helpful as I intentionally position Every Nation Campus Melbourne to implement a ministry strategy (See post here). Culture is the habitual thoughts and actions we do that flow from the unquestioned values that we hold. If that’s the case, then when we finally get the change we want is our work with culture over? No.
Culture is hard to change on purpose but easily drifts over time. A supertanker, with all of its inertia takes time and planning to adjust course. But the ocean has lots of energy and is able to change it’s direction, subtly but constantly. Over time, if no corrections are made the ship can end up going in completely the wrong direction.
The biggest threat to a culture implementation is becoming too habitual and too unquestioned. Or stated another way, if an organisation becomes passive about its cultural direction what is habitual becomes empty of meaning and what becomes unquestioned is the ‘what is done’ instead of the ‘why we do it’. We’ve all seen things that are done because that’s the way they always been done.
Active maintenance of culture will always be required even after an organisation gets to a place of healthy culture. One generation can automatically live life, with deep understanding of the underlying values and principles behind their action, and the next fall into the trap of repeating the form but losing the heart. I’ve been part of teams that were doing things that were appropriate 20 years ago but are still doing the same things even though they no longer serve the vision of the organisation. Often its easier to be busy doing than it is to think.
One of the great blessing of campus ministry is something others see as a hindrance. The entire student leadership team is often completely turned over in 4 years. My job is to provide continuity to the past, vision for the future and communication of the culture. Because my leaders leave quickly I have no option but to keep building and maintaining our culture even when it gets to where we want it. I’ll always encourage my team to think. I’ll always encourage my team to ask why.