There are hundreds of books (thousands, maybe?) written every year about organizational culture, vision, and leadership. Many are written for and/or read by leaders of churches. The biggest church ministry conferences bring together the voices of pastors, CEOs, strategists, and consultants to join the conversation surrounding leadership. There are some great conversations happening regarding the pedestal that ‘leadership’ (especially leadership inspired by the business/CEO model) is placed upon (this article and this response from Out of Ur, for example). Out of this crazy leadership-focused (obsessed?) culture comes a recent publication from the Leadership Network, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code (Jossey-Bass, 2010) by Samuel R. Chand.
The driving point of the book is that culture is the most important factor in your organization. Culture is more important than your vision or your strategy, primarily because culture is focused on and determined by people, not ideas. While a strategy or vision can look great on paper, culture holds the key to change, growth, and success. Chand lays out a continuum of five types of cultures: Inspiring, Accepting, Stagnant, Discouraging, and Toxic alongside of the seven acronymical keys to culture: Control, Understanding, Leadership, Trust, Unafraid, Responsive, Execution. Following these five types and seven keys, Chand offers examples from his own life, the business world, and ministry organizations to forward the centrality of developing a healthy culture in your organization.
While Chand mentions several time that the book is intended primarily for churches and non-profits of any size, the book felt designed for large organizations functioning with a traditional strong CEO/executive type leader (whether carrying the title of pastor or otherwise). The book blends together, perhaps too uncritically, the business world and the ministry world, which left me desiring greater distinction between corporate strategies and the church’s call to be a contrast community. While I appreciated some of the more general principles in the book (a great reminder that culture = people = important), as (a) a pastor (b) in a small (c) missional church (d) experimenting with non-traditional leadership structures, much of the book felt foreign to my current experience in organizational leadership. Leaders in more traditional settings may have a greater appreciation for this book, but I found it missing the target for me, both in the intended audience and the standard and unnuanced presentation of leadership offered by the book.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.