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Is An Unspoken Church Culture Contradicting Your Message?

The sign in this image is next to the light switch in the break room of a church. While the intent to save electricity is great, it does provide for some interesting interactions. New staff members, volunteers, and vendors often turn off the light when they leave and this room is not occupied.


They read the sign and complied with its message!

So what is the problem?

The Problem

There is an unspoken rule, “Don't turn the light off during work hours.”

Too often a veteran of the organization will walk in and verbally express frustration over the lights being off. And too often the “offender” is still within earshot.

So, the new people get confused about what signs, literal and cultural, that they can trust. This embarrassment and mistrust taints the person's experience with the church, its culture, and its staff.

The vendors, who we should be trying to build a relationship with and inviting to be a part of our church, are embarrassed and/or think the church is crazy.

This is just one of the more obvious examples of how the unspoken rules of culture create mistrust and disconnection. Maybe it's not necessarily the unspoken rules but how the organization's veterans react when a new person breaks those unspoken rules.

[Tweet “Unspoken rules confuse our people. #church #teamwork”]

Action Steps

  • Walk around your church building.
  • Take note of signs.
  • Observe team interactions.
  • Schedule a 30 day evaluation meeting with new staff. In this meeting, seek each person's evaluation, impressions, etc. on what confuses them about the church culture, staff culture, etc. Ensure the person you seek honest feedback and evaluation through her/his fresh perspective.
  • Change the obvious signs ASAP that are easy to change.
  • Take the feedback from new employees and clarify the unspoken rules of the organization so they are not confusing and frustrating.


How would you make this sign more clear? What are some examples of unspoken rules for your staff or church that cause misunderstanding and hurt feelings?

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