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Customer Reviews for Jossey-Bass Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration

Jossey-Bass Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration

Why is it that the best strategic plans and good leadership often are not able to move churches in the desired direction? Sam Chand contends that toxic culture is to blame. Quite often, leaders don't sense the toxicity, but it poisons their relationships and derails their vision. This work describes five easily identifiable categories of church culture (inspiring-accepting-stagnant-discouraging-toxic), with diagnostic descriptions in the book and a separate online assessment tool. The reader will be able to identify strengths and needs of their church's culture, and then apply practical strategies (communication, control and authority, selection and placement of personnel, etc.) to make their church's culture more positive.
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Customer Reviews for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Review 1 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Date:March 5, 2011
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Cheryl Berto
Location:Vancouver, B.C.
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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I bought a second copy of this book so that I could lend it out without risk of losing my only copy. I can't say enough good about it. It is very accessible, the ideas are clearly communicated with lots of applications to real life situations. If you feel like church staff relationships have gone a little sour, then this is a great resource. As well, if you want to improve the culture of your church, this is a must read. What the author does most powerfully is to show how programs and mission statements cannot address the problem of an unhealthy church culture. He then offers practical and on the ground solutions.
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Review 2 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Review of Cracking Your Church's Culture

Date:February 3, 2011
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Tghali
Location:Montvale, NJ
Age:25-34
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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4 out of 5
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All in all, I appreciated Dr. Chand's book. As you can tell from the title, every church/organization has its own culture that must be understood before strategic planning, then implementation can take place. In some way, it's "captain obvious" but as obvious as it, I know of very few leadership books that spend an adequate amount of time offering perspectives on understanding your church's culture.
My favorite chapters were 1 (Culture Trumps Strategy), 4 (Vocabulary Defines Culture) and 7 (Changing Vehicles) and they probably best contain the outworkings of his thesis. Chand offers some solid thoughts in those chapters (and throughout the book, of course). It's easy for me to see why this is a part of the Leadership Network Series, a "brand" I take seriously.
Those who will profit the most from it are "big church guys" in traditional churches that have a big boat to turn around. They are the illustrations most often used and most of the chapters assume you are leading or a part of a larger pastoral staff. Consequently, pastors of smaller churches may like it but may have trouble implementing a lot of the principles. And lastly, those a part of missional-type churches will probably appreciate this the least (though there's plenty wisdom for missional-types too).
As I was reading, I kept having two thoughts: One, I need to read more leadership books and I'm glad I'm reading this one. And Two, When is he going to get to the part of connecting with the actual congregation? There's so much attention in dealing with the large church staff, when is the pastor going to communicate his vision that has been tailored to the culture that he and his staff have finally cracked?? The answer is Chapter 7 and that's my only criticism, it happens a bit too late and is not enough (though Ch. 7 is lengthy). I personally would have liked to hear more of Dr. Chand's advice relating to the congregation because he seems very qualified. But the problem for me is it's easier to change your staff culture because at some point, they know they will be dismissed if they don't get on board. What do you with a church that doesn't get on board? And what do you with your church when their culture is not to get on board? Again, Chapter 7 (and 8) helps but I would have liked to see more of the book focused on that (as the title implies).
Once you understand the trajectory of the book, I think most will appreciate it and find it insightful. It's clear, every church has a culture and leaders need to understand it in order to lead it.
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Review 3 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Sameul Chand reminds us of what we already know

Date:February 3, 2011
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Allen Bingham
Location:Pinehurst, NC
Age:45-54
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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One of my mentors encouraged me to launch my ministry in every church with a study of John's letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. I baulked at opening ministry with I percieved as a can of worms and then something hit me. These letters were written to the angels of the seven churches! Intuitively I knew that every organization I had worked with had a sense, an ethos, that was often hard to get a handle on and yet crucial to its function (or dysfunction!). My mentor was inviting me to pay attention to that ethos as I envisioned ministry in a new setting.
Samuel Chand's recent book, Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration (Jossey-Bass, 2011), has brought greater clarity to my intuitive hunches about a church's ethos. Chand quickly challenges the reader to understand that culture is king when it comes to leading an organization. Your leadership has less sway than the inspiring or toxic culture that you swim in within your church. The unnoticed and unexamined cultural code will rise up to challenge every change needed by the organization, so pay attention to Chand's discerning exercises for revealing and changing the code for multiplied benefits. He uses the acronym CULTURE (control, undersanding, leadership, trust, unafraid, responsive, and execution) to help the reader think broadly about the cultural ethos of their organization.
The heart of the book centers on the chapters "Vocabulary Defines Culture" and "Change Starts with Me." Our vocabulary shapes the environment which we lead. If we describe everything in negative terms, then we find negative results. I have learned that the opposite is true as well. Chand helped me understand that I have to examine every piece and source of communication for the words that hold an organization from realizing its potential. The culture code is strong and must be addressed on multiple fronts honest communication, deep listening, naming the unknown in "some people say," and offering real affirmations as the church moves forward. The challenging reminder that I can only change myself is braced by a helpful section on how to leave gracefully when your gifts and strengths are not aligned with that of the organization's cultural code. This section of the book is pure gold and I wish I had read it sooner!
Cracking Your Church's Culture Code should be required reading for every pastor. And pastors should pass their copy on to other leaders in their congregations. Every community, business, enterprise, and organization has a "culture code" and not paying attention to the code inevitably leads to ruin.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 4 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Cracking your Church's Culture Code

Date:February 2, 2011
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Kirk
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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3 out of 5
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3 out of 5
Cracking your Church’s Culture Code is a good book. Allow me a minute to explain to you how the book took me on a little bit of a confusing journey. When I first read the title, I was hoping that this book applied to a broader segment than just pastors, as I work in the non-profit world. After beginning the book, I was pleasantly surprised that the book was not specifically targeted only to Church-world and it could be applied across a much larger spectrum. But, as I proceeded through the book, picking up good pieces of wisdom on the way, I found myself wanting the book to more specifically provide instruction on the unique issues presented in Church-world. Obviously, in the business world, the dollar is the bottom line, but in church-world, people are the bottom line. Now don’t take me wrong, Dr. Chand consistently highlighted the fact that people should be the bottom line, but in Church-world, issues of grace, reconciliation, and loyalty make some of the people issues a little cloudy. The book focused more generally towards larger organizations with strong, well-defined executive teams. Also, I had one other slight critique, as I struggled with how Dr. Chand contrasted leadership vs. management. There is a sense in which we have the freedom to say what we say today, because of the foundation that was laid for us by the previous generation. It seems to me that leadership can only be examined, extolled, and preached because the previous generation did a good job of laying a foundation of management. Not that management alone can get you where you need to go, but I sensed a disparagement of management in contrast to an exaltation of leadership. I think reality does not let us get this out of balance. I mention these couple of critiques for the sake of honesty, as I did take away some good nuggets out of the book. I will reference this book again in the future as Dr. Chand did a good job of laying out some functional list of questions, acronyms, and self-tests that will prove beneficial. The main premise of the book, that culture, not vision or strategy, is the most powerful factor in any organization, is worthy of a book. The longer I work in ministry, the more and more this becomes a reality. I have had the opportunity to view this through an accepting culture where vision or strategy couldn’t have destroyed the mission. And, I have seen it through a discouraging culture, where a positive change in mission or strategy could not reach past the culture. These issues are worthy of a serious time investment and Dr. Chand did a good job beginning that conversation.
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Review 5 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Almost Too Much Information

Date:February 2, 2011
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akapastorguy
Location:Fresno, CA
Age:45-54
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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The starting point for this whole book is a quote from Dick Clark - no, not the "it has a good beat, you can dance to it" Dick Clark but instead the head of Merck Pharmaceutical:
"The fact is, culture eats strategy for lunch. You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don't have the culture & the enabling systems, the [negative] culture of the organization will defeat the strategy."
Dr. Chand takes that conceptual idea and expands it into a multifaceted examination of how churches work (and how they don't) in his new book, Cracking Your Church's Culture Code. A great vision for ministry is worthless if the current culture of the church won't support that vision - the author compares it to trying to drive a car from Chicago to London, England... it doesn't matter how much you want to get there, you don't have a vehicle that can make the trip.
One of the strengths of the book is this wide-angle glimpse of how a myriad of factors shape the culture of a church - and Dr. Chand offers wise counsel from years of consulting on how to deal specifically with a number of these issues, from improving communication skills to planning ahead of the stagnation curve.
However, that strength is also a weakness - there is so much information here, presented in 2+ page "nuggets" & loosely organized by theme, that it's difficult to wrap your brain around all that the author is trying to instill in you & in your church.
With that said, I still found the book incredibly useful - esp. in dealing with questions about the nature of the culture of the church I pastor and what actions I can take to continue shaping that culture in order to build an authentic Biblical community. The chapter on "Changing Vehicles" (and Dr. Chand's admonition not to change the vision to suit the messed-up culture) is very convicting.
One note for small church pastors: unlike some church leadership books, the ideas presented here are applicable in our non-mega-church situations. While Dr. Chand uses examples from larger ministries, the principles he suggests are not restricted to big organizations.
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Review 6 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Leaders only please - good conversation starter

Date:February 2, 2011
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Joe K
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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I found the book to be quite good and it resonated deeply with alot of the issues that leaders face in todays church's, non-profits and in fact almost all organizations.
Warning: Please don't buy this book and give it to your staff to read until you have read it and embraced what it is saying. Culture change from the bottom up is not an option, the decision to influence and change a church's culture at the staff level and/or the congregation level needs to be taken seriously, and is no short term program or project.
That being said, Dr. Chand does a great job of helping leaders understand what some of the conversations they may need to start having in order to move on in implementing their vision's and strategies for their churches, especially those who find themself with great vision and stagnant progress.
The book outlines some basic cultures that exist and offers the starting off question what kind of culture do you have? Does your team or church have an : inspiring culture, accepting culture, stagnant culture, discouraging culture, or toxic culture. Buy and read the book and take the free online survey to find out more.
The book gives some good practical examples of how we all can change or influence our cultures, it is definitely worth the read. It is well written and not to complex and brainy. Despite my previous warning, I would recommend all church staffs be brave enough to read and discuss it together in and open and honest forum. As the Church we are all about changing lives! Let's start with our lives, our teams, and our churchs so God may use us all to impact the world.
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Review 7 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:February 2, 2011
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Bookworm Bob
Location:Charlotte, NC
Age:45-54
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
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Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code
Groundhog Day is a celebration of an old tradition – Candlemas Day – where clergy blessed and distributed candles for winter, representing how long and cold winter would be.
Groundhog Day is also a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray that popularized the usage of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated over and over.
Many churches find themselves in their own version of groundhog day, living out a dream and vision that was once relevant, but now is long in the past. Unwilling or unable to face reality, they are simply repeating the past over and over.
Church leaders who find themselves in this situation have an excellent new resource in “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” by Sam Chand.
“Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” offers a practical resource for discovering the deficits in an existing church’s culture and includes steps needed to assess, correct, and change culture from lackluster to vibrant and inspirational so that it truly meets the needs of the congregation.
The book includes descriptions of five categories of church culture (Inspiring, Accepting, Stagnant, Discouraging, and Toxic) as well as diagnostic methods that church leaders can use to identify the particular strengths and needs of their church.
One particularly useful section of the book deals with the seven keys of CULTURE:
• Control – it isn’t a dirty word; delegating responsibility and maintaining accountability are essential for any organization to be effective
• Understanding – every person on a team needs to have a clear grasp of the vision, his or her role, the gifts of the team members, and the way the team functions
• Leadership – healthy teams are pipelines of leadership development, consistently discovering, developing, and deploying leaders
• Trust – mutual trust up, down, and across the organizational structure is the glue that makes everything good possible
• Unafraid – healthy teams foster the perspective that failure isn’t a tragedy and conflict isn’t the end of the world
• Responsive – teams with healthy cultures are alert to open doors and ones that are closing; they have a sensitive spirit and a workable system to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks
• Execution – executing decisions is a function of clarity, roles and responsibilities, and a system of accountability
Understanding your church’s culture is not an easy task. “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” is a very helpful resource for the leader who wants to delve below the surface of church as usual and lead it to greater impact.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Leadership Network as a part of the blog tour for “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Review 8 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Culture is King

Date:February 1, 2011
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gligon
Location:Dallas, TX
Age:45-54
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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Sam does a great job of demonstrating how important culture is to the success of churches or any organization.
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Review 9 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Culture trumps both vision and strategy

Date:February 1, 2011
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brettselby
Location:Oklahoma City, OK
Age:45-54
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Quality: 
4 out of 5
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Many a change initiative has been derailed in a church because a leader failed to take into account the overarching importance of organizational culture. Many a pastor has found themselves on the wrong end of a severance package because they were blindsided by the operational values of their church.
Churches and organizations have "corporate personalities"--evidenced in the oft repeated dictum "that's just how we do things around here"--and these patterns of collective behavior express the fundamental values of those who make up the group. Culture may be difficult to detect and describe but it is as real as any organizational dynamics.
I found Samuel Chand's book Cracking Your Church's Culture Code to be a great leadership development tool. He clarifies the nebulous nature of culture and helps a leader know where to begin a dialogue with those on his team. According to Chand, cultures are basically either inspirational or toxic, determined by trust and courage. Without a healthy culture, an organization will never be able to execute any of its visions and dreams.
We're accustomed to hearing how leadership consists of creating and communicating vision. We know that every vision must be accompanied by a strategy for implementation. The brutal truth, however, is that culture trumps both of these; without understanding, shaping, and managing it, vision and strategy are doomed to failure. Leaders will be left scratching their heads and wondering what happened.
Chand emphasized meetings as a microcosm of culture and helpfully demonstrates how important the first thirty to forty-five seconds of a meeting are. Leaders must be students and managers of their church's culture and he provides practical insights to that end.
For those wanting to better understand their organizational culture, go to www.freeculturesurvey.com for a free online assessment.
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Review 10 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Date:February 1, 2011
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Ryan Braught
Back a few months ago I “attended” an online conference sponsored by the Leadership Network. One of the speakers was Samuel Chand, the author of the book “Cracking your church’s culture code.” I then received an e-mail about the possibility of reading the book and blogging about it, so I sent an e-mail and got picked to read the book and write about it. So I received the book a few weeks ago and spent some time over the last few weeks reading the book, pondering it’s contents and wondering how it might apply to my context right now, as a church plant that is just in it’s infancy.
Chand says that the seven keys of understanding the CULTURE and shaping it for the Kingdom are: Control, Understanding, Leadership, Trust, Unafraid, Responsive, Execution. I enjoyed reading the book as it is helping me to think about what the culture of our missional community is, and what it might be moving forward and how we can keep the culture healthy, missional, and seeking to move the mission forward.
Some of the quotes that stood out to me in the section that lays out the 7 keys to understanding CULTURE are:
Healthy teams foster the perspective that failure isn’t a tragedy and conflict isn’t the end of the world.
Courage, support, and innovation go hand in hand in inspiring cultures.
One of their chief concerns is that teams often talk about decisions but fail to follow through on implementing them (I find this a huge struggle in my own life. I feel that one of my gifts as a leader is in the area of vision, dreams, and putting the mission out there. The thing that I lack is knowing how to move step by step from where we are to where I dream us to be. I frequently say that I see A (where we are) clearly (not perfectly) and I see Z (where we want to go) (not perfectly) but I need someone to help me with B through Y. So the section about Execution was very helpful.
But I would say the most helpful, the most encouraging, and the most challenging part of the book was the chapter on “Changing Vehicles”. I felt he was speaking right to me, as I continue to dream about what Veritas is called to do, be, and pursue. One of the helpful parts was the 13 questions laid out on page 139-140. Some of the quotes in this chapter that spoke to me include:
“How do you know if a vision is from God? One of the measures is that it has to be something so big that it requires God’s wisdom and power to pull it off. Anything less is just a good idea. God’s vision is to redeem not only individuals bu the entire creation. He’s not just making new men and women; he’s going to re-create the entire universe in the New Heaven and New Earth. That’s a big vision! (a vision that I want to be a part of)
Churches must “re-dream” the dream or discover a new compelling vision for their existence.
Your effectiveness will always depend on your ability to see the future.
Strategic planning needs to be written in pencil because in a dynamic, changing environment, strategic planning needs constant evaluation and adjustment. (Couldn’t have said it better myself)
The organization can’t fulfill a God-sized vision, even in it’s local market, without the alignment of people, plans, and funding around a common purpose.
If the vision is big enough, if the people have a heart for doing it, if God’s will be glorified in a specific way, then the money will come. (One of my struggles as a church planter)
God has called us to partner with him to redeem the world.
I would say this book was helpful for me as we are planting Veritas. I would say this book would be helpful for any church leader no matter where the church is, no matter how young or how old, no matter how big or how small, no matter the setting. Because I believe it’s easy to change “vision” (just write a mission statement, vision statement, etc..) but it’s harder to change the culture. But if the culture changes, then the vision can come to fruition. So let’s be in the business of changing culture (both inside the church and outside as well)
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Review 11 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Much needed perspective on Church Leadership

Date:February 1, 2011
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SLCorley
Location:Covingtone, LA
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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“Culture – not vision and strategy – is the most powerful factor in any organization.” Samuel Chand brings a much needed perspective to the hype over mission statements and strategy with the book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code. Why do great strategies not produce results? “culture eats strategy for lunch. You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don’t have the culture and enabling systems, the negative culture of the organization will defeat the strategy.” As a leader who is tasked with helping churches strategize and revitalize for effective ministry this book has been very helpful to me and will be for anyone in church or secular leadership. Dr. Chand defines culture as “the personality of the church or nonprofit” and in the book he gives you insight on how to identify problem cultures, how to influence culture positively and negatively, and how to change a negative/defective culture. The author uses many personal stories and real life examples from his work as a leadership consultant, making the book easy to read. Well worth reading for any leader interested in organizational effectiveness.
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Review 12 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

A Fantastic Resource!

Date:February 1, 2011
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markchowell
Location:Chicagoland
Age:45-54
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5 out of 5
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Some books get a quick thumb through and are never picked up again. Others get a thorough reading but end up only being the source of a quote or an illustration. And a few books join the elite ranks of regular reference and recommendation. Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration, the latest from Dr. Samuel R. Chand, is that last variety! There's no doubt I'll be pulling it off the shelf again and again. In fact, it may not even get shelved!
I had the opportunity to read chapter one a few months back and for some unknown reason it didn't grab me at that point. I don't know if it was my mood or the fact that it was a pdf, but honestly, I was a little disappointed. I'd heard so much about Sam Chand from so many of my friends, but on looking over the sample, I wondered what they saw. Can I tell you something? I am so glad I kept reading! Turning to chapter two I discovered a fantastic resource that I'll come back to on a regular basis!
In Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, Chand makes the case that "culture--not vision or strategy--is the most powerful factor in any organization." Further, he explains that:
*It determines the receptivity of the staff and volunteers to new ideas,
* Unleashes or dampens creativity,
* Builds or erodes enthusiasm, and
* Creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved in the organization.
There are a number of elements that I found immediately helpful. First, every chapter concludes with a set of diagnostic questions, making it immediately useful for the pastor or leader evaluating their own organization. You don't have to be in a toxic culture for these questions to be applicable, either. And, you can see right away that since departments have their own culture, these questions will have application there as well.
Second, the chapters dealing with 9 Culture Killers and 7 Keys to Culture both come with built-in diagnostic tools. I know I'll be frequently referring to the lists here as I talk with consulting clients.
Third, Cracking Your Church's Culture Code provides the overview you need to take advantage of the free online survey, leveraging the findings in your quest to build a healthy culture.
Cracking Your Church's Culture Code is one of those books that you'll use over and over again. Much like Church Unique (Will Mancini), Good to Great (Jim Collins), The Future of Management (Gary Hamel), or the Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive (Patrick Lencioni), this one is packed with great diagnostic questions and tools that will inspire many conversations and staff meetings.
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Review 13 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A great book for your team!

Date:February 1, 2011
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Ryan S
Location:Atlanta, GA
Age:18-24
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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With pastors’ shelves full of books on ministry vision and strategies, Dr. Samuel Chand gets to the heart of church leadership: culture. While vision and strategy are necessary components to any organization, culture provides the foundation on which everything else is built. The quality of culture greatly determines an organization’s receptivity to new ideas and opportunity for growth.
Through Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code, Dr. Samuel Chand assists pastors in assessing the cultural state of their organizations. Given a great explanation of the five culture types and nine potential “potholes”, the reader is able to quickly identify his current situation from which a plan for cultural change can be developed. Topics such as developing buy-in, defining vocabulary, and utilizing one’s sphere of influence to begin organizational change all provide the reader with next steps as he begins to move his organization from that identified situation into a desirable future. Learning to embrace the chaos and uncertainty that come with that move is also discussed.
Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code is the kind of book worth studying with your church’s executive leadership team. Questions woven within the reading and at the end of every chapter provide a catalyst for some of the most honest and productive discussions your team may ever have regarding the current state of your organization. For any ministry leader desiring a solid cultural foundation on which to establish new vision and strategy, this book is a great tool.
Note: I received a copy of this book from Leadership Network for the purposes of review. This review is an honest representation of my opinions regarding it.
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Review 14 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

A standard look at corporate/church leadership

Date:February 1, 2011
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dachkl
Location:Los Angeles, CA
Age:25-34
Gender:male
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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2 out of 5
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3 out of 5
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The driving point of the book is that culture is the most important factor in your organization. Culture is more important than your vision or your strategy, primarily because culture is focused on and determined by people, not ideas. While a strategy or vision can look great on paper, culture holds the key to change, growth, and success. Chand lays out a continuum of five types of cultures: Inspiring, Accepting, Stagnant, Discouraging, and Toxic alongside of the seven acronymical keys to culture: Control, Understanding, Leadership, Trust, Unafraid, Responsive, Execution. Following these five types and seven keys, Chand offers examples from his own life, the business world, and ministry organizations to forward the centrality of developing a healthy culture in your organization.
While Chand mentions several time that the book is intended primarily for churches and non-profits of any size, the book felt designed for large organizations functioning with a traditional strong CEO/executive type leader (whether carrying the title of pastor or otherwise). The book blends together, perhaps too uncritically, the business world and the ministry world, which left me desiring greater distinction between corporate strategies and the church's call to be a contrast community. While I appreciated some of the more general principles in the book (a great reminder that culture = people = important), as (a) a pastor (b) in a small (c) missional church (d) experimenting with non-traditional leadership structures, much of the book felt foreign to my current experience in organizational leadership. Leaders in more traditional settings may have a greater appreciation for this book, but I found it missing the target for me, both in the intended audience and the standard and unnuanced presentation of leadership driving the book.
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Review 15 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

All-in-One Reference Guide for Church Leadership

Date:January 28, 2011
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samnunnally
Age:35-44
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4 out of 5
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Sam Chand's Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration (Leadership Network/Jossey-Bass, 2011) is different than every other church leadership book I've read. Granted, it's the first one I've read by him. In the past, the best organizational advice I've read comes from "secular" sources: The Wisdom of Teams, Good to Great, or a Patrick Lencioni book. But Chand manages to keep the organizational advice flowing while also reminding the reader why he or she is in church leadership to begin with: to glorify God.
Chand's premise is this: change a church's culture - its vocabulary, team dynamics, transparency, etc. - and you will change a church's direction and effectiveness. From chapter one forward, Chand emphatically states, "Culture trumps vision." Change the culture and the vision will follow. Chand then systematically walks the reader through the seven keys to culture: 1) control, 2) understanding, 3) leadership, 4) trust, 5) unafraid, 6) response, and 7) execution. Throughout the book he covers all manner of organizational life - team dynamics, the process of change, the importance of capitalizing on momentum, dealing with mediocre staff members, and how to select volunteers from within the congregation. In other words, he basically covers everything.
Peppered within all this good "business" advice, Chand speaks from a pastoral heart as well. He interjects comments like, "We need to treat staff like volunteers, always appealing to their hearts and their desire for God to use them to change lives" (p. 66). Or "The number of 'shoulds' in a person's mind and mouth is inversely proportional to his sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment" (p. 90). Then, Chand turns around and offers some of the most common-sense leadership advice you'll read anywhere: "Trust grows in an environment that is HOT: honest, open, and transparent" (p. 52). Concerning strategic planning, a good framework is found in the acronym SMART: "specific, measurable, accountable, reasonable, and timely" (p. 150). And don't miss the great illustration about the church as a restaurant.
Occasionally a book will come along that embodies all the research and data in a particular field. This book does that in the areas of church leadership. You can read Diffusions of Innovations and be better for it. But Chand takes those findings and many others, places them within the context of church life, and summarizes it in a page and a half. Every triumph and failure I have seen among church staff is addressed in this book. If any church leader reads this book and commits to using it as a guide for organizational life, I don't see how they can go wrong. It's a gold mine for church leaders.
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Review 16 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Good resource for leaders desiring change

Date:January 25, 2011
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Jon Ashley
Location:Cleveland, OH
Age:18-24
Gender:male
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4 out of 5
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4 out of 5
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In this book, Dr. Chand lays out a very practical and useful roadmap for any leader within a church organization who wishes to bring about positive change. Chand writes from the perspective that culture is the most important factor in determining an organization's success, and thus the key to breaking out of a lack of inspiration or growth is to change the culture of institution. Cultural change can occur at any level, Chand frequently states, but he also consistently writes as if he is speaking to those with the highest levels of authority in the organization. So while the book is certainly a valuable resource for anyone within the offices and leadership of a church, senior pastors, elders, and department heads will find Chand’s book most helpful.
The strength of the book is in Chand’s experience and the practicality of his advice to leaders at how to best go about changing the culture of a church organization. Chand has spent years in leadership positions, and he balances stories of his personal experience with lessons learned throughout the book. If you are looking for a practical, in-the-trenches guide to navigating your ministry through major change, this book is a great resource. Chand thoroughly covers every step along the way of changing a culture, giving leaders a helpful resource to navigate the often-treacherous waters of change.
This is certainly not a theological work on the nature of the church, nor is it a book on church growth (although church growth is discussed). Chand does not give much room for the spiritual aspects of church culture and leadership. In many ways, by merely replacing every instance of the word “church” with “company” in the book, the principles and advice Chand provides would be just as applicable. With how much emphasis Chand places on the leader as impetus for cultural change, I would have hoped to see more discussion and application of biblical models of leadership and culture.
Overall, this book would be a helpful resource for any church leader or pastor seeking a practical guide to bringing about change at the leadership level of the church.
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Review 17 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Culture eats Vision for Lunch!

Date:January 24, 2011
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John
Location:Philadelphia, PA
Age:35-44
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Culture eats vision for lunch! You can change the look of the platform but nothing has changed until you address the culture.
Samuel Chand presents a great look at what prevents successful change and transition in "Cracking Your Church's Culture Code."
Chand presents the idea that it is a church's culture that needs to be addressed even more so than an eloquently articulated vision or strategy. Culture is about the people, and deep lasting change will never happen unless the culture is addressed. Presenting vision, implementing strategy and not addressing the deep issues of culture will result in resistance to the vision and strategy.
He identifies five categories of church culture - Inspiring, Accepting, Stagnant, Discouraging and Toxic - and goes on to give some of the defining characteristics of each category. Once the category has been determined, Chand provides seven leverage points that can specifically be addressed to change the culture. He uses an acronym of the word CULTURE; Control, Understanding, Leadership, Trust, Unafraid, Responsive, Execution. Chand also anticipates many of the key issues that will arise during times of organizational culture shift.
Having served on two churches that attempted significant transitions, this book could have been used a few years before it was actually written! This is a book that every church leader who is looking to impact deep long-lasting change should have.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the this book for the purposes of blogging about it from Leadership Network.
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Review 18 for Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiration
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This book will become a vital part of my coaching

Date:January 23, 2011
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Marshall
Location:Greenville, SC
Age:45-54
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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This book describes and defines the normal personality types that are found in organizational cultures. Dr. Chand gives the characteristics of the different types and categorizes them in the following ways: inspiring, accepting, stagnated, discouraging and toxic. The author does not leave the reader with simply the ability to identify which personality his organization has but also helps the reader formulate steps for correcting and changing a culture that is not inspiring.
He provides the reader with 7 keys of culture that forms an acrostic. They are control, understanding, leadership, trust, unafraid, responsive and execution – spelling out the word culture. He declares the first and most important step toward changing a culture is insight into these 7 keys.
This is a book that every person in an organization should read and reread in order to be reminded of the importance of people and how they treat each other from the very top to the very bottom. Dr. Chand makes it very clear that it is well-nigh impossible for a church or any organization to effectively fulfill their mission if they have an unhealthy culture. This book can help you get to the root of why your church or organization may be failing. Often leaders have sought to correct a failing organization by installing a new game plan with strategies, programs or projects instead of addressing the un-Christlike character of their culture.
This book provided some missing pieces for me as a ministry design coach. It helped me build a framework for assessing the health of any organization and develop pathways to bring about needed change. I have added this book to my recommended reading list and it will be a vital part of my coaching services going forward.
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