Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Book Review: Cracking Your Church's Culture Code

The starting point for this whole book is a quote from Dick Clark - no, not the "it has a good beat, you can dance to it" Dick Clark but instead the head of Merck Pharmaceutical:
"The fact is, culture eats strategy for lunch. You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don't have the culture & the enabling systems, the [negative] culture of the organization will defeat the strategy."
Dr. Chand takes that conceptual idea and expands it into a multifaceted examination of how churches work (and how they don't) in his new book, Cracking Your Church's Culture Code. A great vision for ministry is worthless if the current culture of the church won't support that vision - the author compares it to trying to drive a car from Chicago to London, England... it doesn't matter how much you want to get there, you don't have a vehicle that can make the trip.

One of the strengths of the book is this wide-angle glimpse of how a myriad of factors shape the culture of a church - and Dr. Chand offers wise counsel from years of consulting on how to deal specifically with a number of these issues, from improving communication skills to planning ahead of the stagnation curve.

However, that strength is also a weakness - there is so much information here, presented in 2+ page "nuggets" & loosely organized by theme, that it's difficult to wrap your brain around all that the author is trying to instill in you & in your church.

With that said, I still found the book incredibly useful - esp. in dealing with questions about the nature of the culture of the church I pastor and what actions I can take to continue shaping that culture in order to build an authentic Biblical community. The chapter on "Changing Vehicles" (and Dr. Chand's admonition not to change the vision to suit the messed-up culture) is very convicting.

One note for small church pastors: unlike some church leadership books, the ideas presented here are applicable in our non-mega-church situations. While Dr. Chand uses examples from larger ministries, the principles he suggests are not restricted to big organizations.

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