How do I create a Kingdom of Heaven culture within a clearly secular organization?
A client of my company serves as a perfect example:
This devout, Christian leader is a general manager of a private recreational center which also has private dining rooms. It is advertised as a private, family-oriented organization supported by membership fees and regular dues. It serves an upper mid-market.
I have been doing some consulting with the organization and its leaders to establish a consistent and stable welcoming culture. It can’t be overtly Christian, without creating some strong backlash from the existing members. So how do you create a Kingdom of Heaven culture within such an organization?
For my client, we had to address some basic marketing strategies. The organization has never really established a mission statement. Nor have they focused upon how they want to be viewed in the marketplace. This makes for an uncertain future with rather vague values.
In this case, the key to creating a Kingdom of Heaven culture within a secular setting was establishing a sound, fundamental, organizational management strategy.
I’ve shared about Wes Roberts in a previous blog, describing him as an international expert on building great organizational cultures. He is also one of the most connected spiritual people I ever hope to meet. He joins the secular and spiritual worlds seamlessly by using V.I.C. as an acronym for Values, Integrity, and Character.
So, the first element of creating a Kingdom of Heaven culture in a secular business is to understand that there is no such thing as “secular.” Everything is sacred, so even in a secular business, the Father is at work. As Christians, our task is to make Christ visible in the regular comings and goings of everyday commerce.
The second element is to work within the existing organization’s staff and leadership to determine what the company should be about. What is the mission of the group? Create and publish a simple, clear statement which embodies V.I.C. It should be embraced by the existing community being served, and the broader community in which the organization hopes to serve. Keep the internal messaging the same as external; this will help with the marketing and branding of your message.
The third element is to determine what the organization ideally wants to become in the future. A strong vision statement will help give the organization momentum toward achieving their organizational goals. My client’s organization is located in the middle of a residential community, perched on top of a very visible hill. A strong vision statement should include being “a city on a hill” for all to see.
The next element would be to establish three to four organizational values. The V in Wes Roberts’ acronym is the core to how people behave and operate as an organization. Trying to establish a code of conduct for a service organization is based on these core values.
Now that the foundation is established, it will take some time of acting out the company’s values to establish the culture of the organization. My client’s organization has significant competition for their consumer’s cash flow. It has to separate itself as superior in order to attract and retain members. Their mission statement helps them do that. Being an organization known as a “city on a hill,” dedicated to the recreation, rejuvenation, and enjoyment of the families in the community using a private facility came from acting out their mission and vision.
It is not necessary for an organization to hang their mission statement on the wall in brass. What makes a V.I.C. powerful is that every staff member knows what the organization stands for and where it is going.
The leadership of an organization takes on the tasks of nurturing their team members to perform together, serving the customers and one another. Leaders pour into their teams, to develop them as whole people not just as workers. This development is a lot like discipling and is not reserved just for the bosses or managers. Everyone can be a leader, and as Christ followers, we are called to be leaders no matter what place we hold.
Many people have never been managed this way before, but once they experience it, they are transformed; knowing they hold legitimate value as a person, not just workers.
Now you have yourself the beginnings of a culture which is deeply resonating in the hearts and souls of the staff, rippling into their interactions with team members and customers alike.
That is how a secular culture becomes sacred.