Let’s be honest about a couple of things here. First of all, nobody has used the word “killer” since about 1995…but I’m bringing it all the way back my friends! Secondly, as a senior leader, it can be a real challenge to build the kind of culture where all people can truly thrive. I find myself spending significant amounts of time praying and strategizing on how to get the right atmosphere so that people never want to leave (even though they will which is a post for another day….).

I recognize that a healthy culture will propel us forward as a church. Conversely, I am keenly aware that an unhealthy culture will according to Carey Nieuwhof, “consistently undermine an amazing vision, mission and strategy”

Recently, our church came through an amazing weekend of ministry with Pastor Derrill Corbin from Mannahouse in Portland Oregon. He took some time to speak to our leaders and he said this quote which I can’t stop thinking about…

“If you don’t design the culture, it will design you.”

Wow. That’s what I call a power leadership quote. But it did create a bit of a challenge in my mind because up until now my favourite quote on culture has come from Peter Drucker who said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So, if I have this correct…culture always trumps strategy, BUT the culture will never develop until I strategically design it.

Here are three simple thoughts for you on how you can begin to create a killer culture in your organization.



You have to know what you are building towards, which means you need to identify what that culture looks like. At LifeSpring Church we have six values that really help to shape the culture we are trying to build (check them out HERE).

Now, that list could honestly be much longer, but it is a starting place to determine what we value and what is most important to us! As people come to our church they feel these values in the atmosphere and climate of the church.

Ask yourself, “what do we value?” Or even better ask people in your church, “what do YOU think we value?”  If the answers are unclear or if the answers don’t represent what is in your heart, it may mean you need to spend some time identifying and communicating what those values are.


Nothing great ever happens by accident. You’ve got to do the work and be very intentional about what you want the culture of your church to look and feel like. Once you have identified what those values are, you need to start thinking about how you will intentionally reinforce those values amongst your leaders and your people. Here are a few ideas on how to be intentional in this area…

  • Write a weekly email to key leaders reinforcing and celebrating one of the values.
  • Honour a key volunteer who embodies what you are trying to build.
  • Be sure to highlight at least one value in your weekly message.
  • Make sure values are prominently displayed on your website, in your bulletin or on the walls of your church.
  • Celebrate your values through your social media outlets.

You get the idea. Think about ways you can intentionally reinforce the values you have identified as important to your church.

Now here is the last key…


I can’t speak for all of you, but I’m impatient. Waiting for anything gets me a little uptight. I’m 48 years old and I still have a hard time waiting to open presents at Christmas. I think I’m worse than my own children actually (my family will confirm this).

On top of that, I don’t like doing one thing at a time, I have multiple things going all the time. Yet I’ve come to recognize that a great culture takes patience as it is built in increments. It is built little by little, step by step, over time. It is built by saying the same things over and over and over and over. Believe me, about the time you are sick and tired of saying it, is about the time your leaders are just starting to be aware of it.

Not only your leaders, but what about all the people that are new to your church? They are still trying to figure out who you are! You have to consistently build the culture in every season of your church. Step by step, little by little. The moment you think you have “arrived” is the moment you will begin to lose ground. Keep identifying key values, keep being intentional about how you communicate those values and keep building incrementally the dream that beats in your heart.


I would love to hear your thoughts on culture and the lessons you have learned on how to build it!

Please leave a comment below!

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Bryan E.W. Davis

My name is Bryan Davis and I along with my bride are the Lead Pastors of LifeSpring Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia. I love hockey (of course), golf, and coffee...lots of coffee. Maybe because I have 4 children that keep me running.

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