Transforming the workplace culture of a church denomination’s headquarters is a challenge like no other. That’s why this brief turn-around story is impossible to ignore.
In Fall 2011, the BCWI Employee Engagement Survey revealed the cultural health of the 120-member staff of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denominational headquarters was in critical condition. After a year of hard work, the culture improved to become healthy just in time to welcome the Alliance’s new President.
John Stumbo became the President of the denomination with 2,000 U.S. congregations 22,000 congregations worldwide. While the C&MA hailed its robust 130-year evangelistic heritage, John believed “The denomination needed a reboot of its passion.
“At first, I was skeptical about the value of the Best Christian Workplace Survey, John admits. But when I understood the purpose and saw the value of the results, I became a believer. As the top leader, I realize I am the organization’s chief ‘culture architect’ and the survey informs me what needs work.
Starting with John’s leadership: C&MA’s culture reboot began to unfold:
1. New Conviction
“The survey results spoke directly to me in that as president, I needed to be serious about my role as a leader and architect of our culture. This meant facilitating effective and efficient conversations with our people about how we were going to continue improving the culture.
2. New Trust
“My new conviction as a leader made me see that our improved healthy culture that came to light in a follow-up survey, made it clear that the growing trust among our people affected all of us for the better.
3. New Desire
“Greater, growing trust meant there were people I could trust with my wife, my children, and my bank account. And with greater trust came the deepening desire that, even more than before, the people God called me to lead and serve were people I wanted to play with, plan with and pray together.
4. New Encouragement
“Our culture transformation has spread well beyond our denomination headquarters. I arrived back in Colorado from meeting with C&MA pastors in Pennsylvania I could tell our team with utter confidence, ‘What you’re doing matters. Encouraging your people by how their work is part of God’s greater work, everybody wins.’
5. New Freedom
“Is our culture anywhere near perfect? (laughs) No, because we can always improve. However, I can tell you that our people are telling others how much they love their job.
6. New Togetherness
“The only ‘no’ to come from our improving, healthier culture has been the advent of our new ‘No Travel Week.’ For one week in December, our entire home office staff is all together in one place. To see so many people, who otherwise would be traveling across the country and around the world, in one place—in conversation, devotions, prayer, and trainings. and in prayer—you could just feel the buzz.
A work environment in a toxic condition is an ineffective way to advance the gospel. We need a flourishing workplace.
After a year, the C&MA home office culture went from a healthy condition to flourishing. John Stumbo isn’t shy:
- “I’ve come to believe that a work environment in a toxic or critical condition is an ineffective way to advance the gospel. In order to fulfill our calling to spread the gospel we need a healthy workplace.
- “Because our culture is flourishing today, I’m no longer having the kinds of conversations and concerns when I first stepped into my roll. A better, healthier culture has freed me up to invest more time, effort and prayer in the work to which God has called us around the world.”
The takeaway for you: When top leaders become the organization’s culture architect, a powerful, positive culture transformation is not far behind.