Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code, a Review.

In a world of changing culture, Chand’s 2010 book can help one discover a misunderstood aspect of the local church. “Cracking your church’s culture code” is a resource to help church leaders understand the systems which have power in the life and cycle of the congregational church. This tool for church leadership helps us define some of the hidden powers to fulfilling the calling of our churches.

Chand makes use of the term “culture” to encourage leaders to find a strategic vocabulary to bring about church growth. While the term “culture” is perhaps not the most accurate of terms.

Chand, Culture Code

While perhaps better terminology could be used more consistent with the systems in existence within the local church, once past the use of the term culture, this resource should be considered a high priority read for church leadership, both paid and be used in light of the anthropological idea, Chand is attempting to use this term strategically to tap into the current thoughts regarding church culture. But perhaps the strategy is more from a book sales angle.

Chand starts by discussing how culture actually trumps the vision of the church. He unfolds his argument showing that the culture, or systems in place at the local church, either by design, or by default, create the churches ability to fulfil their vision. He uses the example of how carbon monoxide is like an unhealthy church culture, that as it is unnoticed, can become deadly. While he creates a convincing argument regarding the hierarchy of culture over vision, we must consider that this is sort of a “chicken and egg” scenario. Without vision of a healthy culture, the culture can by default, be toxic due to human nature. Perhaps vision is a partner with culture and not simply a by product.

Chand continues to discuss many aspects of the church culture that can be damaging and toxic to local congregations. He uses stories to illustrate how some church cultures can be inspiring, and some can be limiting and even disheartening. He writes this discussion well. Following his analysis of how church culture needs to have a vision for inspiration, he shows his readers practical points to develop positive church culture.

The rest of book I found extremely well thought out, until at least the last chapter. Chand develops the idea of a specific vocabulary needed for a healthy church culture, and that the vocabulary itself can lend it’s participants to engage in direct conversation and strategy for the growth of it’s congregants and ministry.

Helping his readers understand that a level of chaos is not only to be expected, but is to be pursued in order to bring growth, was perhaps one of my favourite portions of the work. It is vital for today’s church leaders to understand that in order to bring change, things must die. Chand shows us how it’s the leaders role to make things uncomfortable for a period in order to pursue what is better.

I believe Chand really lands his argument in his chapter about “changing vehicles”. Simply put, if you are not getting to your destination, perhaps you are not driving the right type of vehicle. It is vital for an organization, including a church, to rethink itself often. This is not to say that when God put’s a vision for your church in place that it is not relevant anymore. But perhaps when the vision is from God, too often the means to fulfill the vision are from us. We need to rethink the tools we use to fulfill God’s vision for His church.

Chand gives his readers a few handout’s or what he refers to as strategic tools. However, perhaps they are not that strategic, but a nice appendix. I had a hard time figuring out how to use these tools strategically, and as a church strategist, I found this less then helpful. I was encouraged by his desire to help his reader strategically, but found that the tools themselves didn’t fit the need.

All in all, I think that Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code is an extremely important book to read for leaders that are desiring to understand some aspects of church change and growth.

You will like this book if you want to have help finding some natural tendencies within your church that have power to lead it beyond your own leadership.

You will not like this book if you are specifically looking at cultural issues within your church. This is not an anthropological approach to understanding the intricacies of your churches culture.