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5 Step Formula to Creating Culture

Oct 3 2018

1. Define the culture

The first stage of creating any culture within a team or organisation is for the leader to define the culture they desire to have – perhaps by asking themselves, “what kind of church/team do I want to be a part of myself?”.

This is not what others have told you it should be, or what worked successfully somewhere else – what do you want to be a part of?

That’s what Pastor Brian did many years ago at the start of Hillsong Church – he considered if he hadn’t been called to be a pastor, but had a full life with a business and a family to tend to – what kind of church would he want to be a part of? Then he got about building exactly that kind of church, and that’s what Hillsong Church is today.

2. Communicate the culture

Once defined clearly in your own mind, you can now begin taking it to your people – preaching on it, presenting it within leaders meetings and amongst your core team. The most important thing to recognise is that you cannot over-communicate your culture enough. When you’re sick of hearing yourself talk about it, it’s likely to be just starting to take root in your people. Plus realise that your culture is constantly being developed and refined and therefore will always need to be out in front of your people.

However don’t get distracted by slick presentations and catchy gimmicks – what people are most wanting, is not to hear you talk about the culture, but to watch you embody it.

3. Encourage the culture

Having defined and communicated the culture, it is now key to start looking for examples of the culture in action and encourage it. The truth is that no one gets sick and tired of too much encouragement. We love it don’t we!

But while things rarely go unnoticed, they do often go unsaid. So don’t keep the positive thoughts to yourself when you notice someone expressing the culture you desire – let them know. Go up to them, write them a card or send a text or email. It costs very little to encourage someone and often the simplest of gestures can be incredibly powerful.

4. Reward the culture

When we reward the culture we are taking our encouragement to the next level by publicly recognising people. There’s many ways to do this, and again remember that it doesn’t always need to cost a lot of money – affirmation is often far more valuable than a present.

Here are two ways that we do this on consistent basis:

“Player of the week”– during our team huddles, 45 minutes before each service on a weekend, we take a moment to recognise someone who perhaps has been faithful for a long time, is always joyful, runs a great Connect Group or modelling our culture in some form.

This lets everyone else on the team know what it looks like to be a culture carrier. The reward for being the ‘player of the week’ is to wear… wait for it… the ‘captain’s armband’ for the rest of the day. It’s silly and fun, but something to be proud of.

“Volunteer of the month”– on the last Sunday of each month, we take a few minutes within the service to publicly recognise a standout volunteer. We’ll bring them up on stage during the MC spot to celebrate them. Everyone stands and applauds and there may even be some confetti. We love to tell the church why they are amazing, how they are flourishing in all areas of their life and give them a gift, flowers and a handwritten card.

We wish we could celebrate everyone who volunteers in this way, but remember what Ps Andy Stanley says, “Do for ONE, what you wish you could do for EVERYONE.” As a church leadership we reward and highlight one volunteer on behalf of everyone.

5. Model the culture

Your example will always speak louder than any sermon or leadership talk that you give, irrespective of however often you repeat it or whatever you may have written on the walls. People follow who we actually are, far more than what we saywe are.

We need to remove any disconnect between the culture that we’re communicating and the example that we’re setting – otherwise it is only a matter of time before they disconnect by stopping listening and watching if you say one thing, but then do the other. So ensure you embody the culture you want to cultivate amongst your church and teams.


This thought was inspired from a webinar entitled ‘Communicating Culture’ hosted by Josh Kimes during Online Open Week in September 2018. Online Open Week is your opportunity to receive impartation and leadership training direct from the Hillsong team through live webinars.

If you would like to watch the full webinar recording or find out more about future events from the Hillsong Leadership Network, click below.