How to Build an Amazing Staff Culture at your Church

How to Build an Amazing Staff Culture at your Church

Aaron Buer

Digital giving apps and tools

Some churches are great places to work... others aren’t.

I’m guessing you have experience with both.

How do you ensure that your church is a great place to work?

This is an important question because healthy churches attract the kind of people you want to work with and healthy churches typically keep those people for a long time. And, unhealthy churches? Well, they are revolving doors aren’t they?

So, how do you become a healthy church that attracts and keeps great people?

It’s all about culture. You have to build a healthy culture. I wouldn’t say I’m a culture pro but I have learned a few things.

Here are three key ideas that have worked well in my context.

Idea 1: Us vs Them

I’ve noticed that an easy indicator of the health of a staff culture is identifying who department leaders view as “us” and “them.”

When a staff is healthy and united “us” includes the entire staff, especially the top leadership.


In my opinion, it’s a red flag when staff refer to the senior leadership team or the board as “them.” They say things like:

This is what ‘they’ want us to do.


That’s ‘their’ vision.

Statements like this are subtle indicators that there is disunity among the staff and a gap in buy-in.


How do you know if you have a unity or buy-in problem? In addition to listening for "us" vs "them" language we assess this issue through staff surveys. A well designed staff survey can show you whether your staff is bought-in.

If you discover that your staff isn’t unified or bought in, there are two steps you can take.

1. Increase trust

If your staff isn’t unified, you have a relationship problem. The simplest solution here is to focus on building relationships.


  • Create a staff retreat that is focused on sharing life.
  • Begin staff meetings with a relational question.
  • Add a meal to your staff meeting time.

Be creative. The key is to build relationships because relationships build trust and a staff that truly knows and cares about each other will fight for unity.

We share more about how to implement these relational connections in our post on creating great staff meetings as well as our article on resolving conflict.

2. Change the “Us”

Depending on the size of your church, you may want to consider creating a team that includes leaders of multiple departments. The reason is that departments often silo. The youth department fights for the youth department and the worship department fights for the worship department.

There often is not much collaboration happening.

This is because the “us” for the youth department is the youth department and the “us” for the worship department is the worship department.

What if the “us” for the leaders of the youth and worship departments became the bigger “us” of the church? That would change everything.

Idea 2: People First

The most valuable resource in every organization is people.

This is especially true in churches. If this is true, then our greatest leadership investment should be in our people. Churches with great staff cultures put people first.


Practically speaking, how do you do this? Here are four ideas.

1. Mentoring

Our church does exit interviews with employees who are leaving the staff. Our HR director recently told me that a common theme in these interviews is a desire for more one-on-ones with supervisors. In other words, exiting employees often wish they would have received more mentoring from their supervisor.

One of the best ways to put people first on your church staff is to intentionally mentor them. Who is mentoring your people? What is the structure for this to happen? Do you require your supervisors to lead weekly or bi-weekly one-on-ones with their employees? This might be a great first step toward putting people first.

2. Money

For better or worse, money talks. Even in church world, nothing communicates value to an employee more than compensation. It’s the most tangible way for leadership to say, “We value you and your work.” I realize this argument isn’t very “spiritual” but it is important. In my opinion, a church can’t afford to under-compensate its employees.

Our strategy is to compensate our employees fairly. We can’t afford, and probably shouldn’t be the highest paying organization in our area but we are doing our best to be competitive. A simple, but very loud way to put people first in your church is to compensate them fairly.

3. Celebration

Churches who put people first regularly celebrate staff members who are doing great work.

One of the recent tasks my boss gave me was to report to him the best way to encourage and celebrate my team members. Some on my team feel celebrated through a thoughtful note. Others love to be recognized publically. Some feel celebrated if I send them home early or give them a free day off. Still others feel the love if they are awarded a bonus.

The point my boss was trying to make is that different people feel celebrated in different ways and a wise leader understands how to celebrate each person in a way that makes them feel the most appreciated.

Churches who put people first celebrate great employees. Take the time to understand each of your people and look for opportunities to thank and celebrate them.

4. Development

Our church has decided that we want to be the kind of place that every employee, whether they worked with us for 6 months or 30 years, would look back fondly and say:

“That was a church that cared about me as a person and invested in my future.”

One of the best ways to do this is to develop people so that they are ready for what’s next.

As a leader, I want to know what my employees want to do next and I want to invest in that dream. If someone on my team wants to be a teaching pastor, then I want to invest in their preaching skills. If one of my people wants to become a licensed counselor, then could we invest in her education? If one of the student pastors under my leadership wants to become a campus pastor, then can I get that person on a leadership track within our own organization to develop the skills and experience necessary?

Churches that put people first develop their employees, not just for the sake of their own church but for the sake of that person’s growth and the larger vision of the Kingdom.

How are you developing your people? Do you have a development plan for each employee? This could be the best investment you ever make as a leader.

Idea 3: Hard Conversations

Ok. The last way that we work to build a great staff culture isn’t the most fun. You have to be willing to have hard conversations.


Here’s the big question: What do you do when you observe behavior that is counter to the culture you are trying to create?

Culture has to be maintained. You have to fight for culture.

[tweetthis]You have to fight for culture.[/tweetthis]

Wise leaders understand that creating and maintaining a great culture requires hard conversations. In our church we have five core values that drive our culture. One of these values is hospitality. Our hope is that our weekend experience is so incredibly hospitable that the only thing that could possibly offend a person is the Gospel itself. We want our guests to find parking easy, the welcome warm, the signage understandable, the coffee hot, a good seat readily available, the music engaging and the sermon clear. It’s hospitality.

So what do we do when someone on our team drops the ball on hospitality? We talk about it. We have a hard conversation. It isn’t punitive or mean but it is honest and clear.

You have to fight for a great culture. If you’re unwilling to have hard conversations, then that great culture you want will most likely elude you.

So, how do you create a great culture on your church staff? It’s about us. It’s about putting people first. And, it’s about being willing to have hard conversations.

Now, I’m sure this isn’t all there is to creating great culture. I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Feel free to share a few ideas in the comments below.

Share this Article:

Looking for easy-to-use software to help manage your church?

We'd love to show you what we built!

Join 10,000+ happy churches using Breeze ChMS™.

loves Breeze

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

loves Breeze

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

loves Breeze

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

David P.
loves Breeze
St. Pauls United Methodist Church

Breeze has been incredible. Their customer service, commitment to innovation, and their product are top-notch. I love the features, the ease of use and the mobile applications.

Karen M.
loves Breeze
Hillcrest Church

All of our database needs have been more than met, it's easier to use than the last database we had, and the price is amazing - what a value this has been to our church! All of our staff can use this software and they do regularly. We use it to track…literally anything a church could possibly need to track regarding it's attenders.

Chris K.
loves Breeze
Crossroads United Methodist Church

Breeze has been a great asset to our church and congregation. Especially from an administrative standpoint, it has been the most adaptable and easiest church database I have ever used. The features from blast emails to giving on-line, and texting have been one of our greatest assets. Thank you!

Ed R.
loves Breeze
Church Admin

We switched from a major, web-based ChMS to Breeze and our decision is confirmed every day. We are a medium size church and we use Breeze for contributions, member management, event checkin and a few other applications custom to our church. I had trouble getting any staff to use our previous ChMS but almost all staff are using Breeze. The product is very well designed, extremely easy to learn and use and customer service is incredible.

Ellen G.
loves Breeze
Grace Church

Breeze has opened the communication highway for our congregation and staff, with very little training. Because members can update their own records and search easily for other members - and map their locations, send emails and text right from Breeze, they love it and our data is more real-time accurate. Our ministries are stronger, because they can trust the data in Breeze, which is easily accessed anywhere, anytime.

Steve H.
loves Breeze
First Presbyterian Church of Ramsey

Breeze is the first ChMS my volunteers have actually embraced. That's because it's so easy to use. The software is very flexible and gives us the opportunity to make decisions based on actual data we've collected and not just hunches or stories we believe to be true.

Allicia B.
loves Breeze
Ellel Ministries Canada

I cannot say enough about Breeze. Their customer service is so friendly, you feel like you have friends and family helping you get started, they're prompt to reply and will do whatever they can to help you get things sorted out. It's been so easy to learn, our staff is loving it and best of all even our staff who are not computer savvy find it a breeze (pun intended). We are just thrilled by our choice.

Kevin D.
loves Breeze
Central Baptist Church

From the start of our process looking for an online solution, Breeze has exceeded all our expectations. Fast data import, fast and friendly customer support, and we can’t say enough about how much we like the program itself. Very well designed and user friendly. On a scale of 1-10, Breeze gets a 15 from us!

Rated 4.9 stars – 480+ reviews on Capterra