5 Keys to Creating a Make-it-happen Culture at Your Church


If you’re like me, you love leaders who have a bias for action.

If you think about it, leadership has two kinds of personalities:

  1. People who make decisions and take immediate action.
  2. People who discuss, debate, and think but, in the end, do nothing. 

So, how do you create a make-it-happen culture? A culture where your team defaults to action rather than sticking with the status quo?

Start With This Phrase (and Question)

When we were creating our value statements at Connexus Church, where I served as Lead Pastor, I wanted to have a value statement that captured the spirit of a church plant, which is basically start-up culture.

As anyone who has started anything knows, start-up means accomplishing the impossible.

In 2007, we launched as a multisite, fully portable church on a tight budget with a relatively small staff. Plus, we were doing video teaching back in 2007 before the technology was fully ready for it.

Inevitably, things would go wrong during Sunday set-up. Patch cords were missing, a camera wouldn’t work, and a volunteer wouldn’t show up. On some Sundays, the entire set-up looked like it wasn’t going to happen.

As we tried to do what everyone knew was nearly impossible week after week, a phrase entered our vocabulary.

Faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, someone would shout out, “Just make it happen!” And against all odds, it would happen. Church was, by the skin of our teeth, on once again.

We lived to see another day.

As we matured as an organization, systems replaced the weekly start-up chaos. We got more volunteers, added staff, and purchased better gear. We needed to say ‘make it happen’ a lot less because, well, good systems make it happen.

But I didn’t want to lose the spirit we had those first few years as a church plant — the culture we had that valued regularly attempting the impossible.

So, as we worked on our cultural values, we landed on “Make it Happen” as one of our values.

For us, Make It Happen: Am I willing to do what it takes no matter what? captured the essence of our make-it-happen culture.

The truth about church plants and start-ups is that the pace you run at when you’re planting is not sustainable. You can run that scramble for a few months or a year or two at the most, but beyond that, it becomes untenable.

You need systems, structure, and predictability to ensure that your church or organization has a long, sustainable life. On the other hand, you don’t want to lose that start-up spark in bureaucracy and processes.

Hence, it becomes essential to encode a make-it-happen mindset in your organization. Otherwise, you will become listless and bloated.

These Five Things Can Get You Started

If you’re in start-up mode, you need stability to make what you began doable in the long term.

Most churches, though, don’t have that problem. They’ve been around so long that they’ve become slow, entrenched, and listless.

Instead of having a make-it-happen culture, you might have a lets-discuss-it-but-never-do-anything-about-it culture. Or maybe you have a there-hasn’t-been-a-new-idea-here-in-years culture.Instead of having a make-it-happen culture, too many churches have a lets-discuss-it-but-never-do-anything-about-it culture.SHARE ON X

Regardless, to get yourself unstuck, here are five things that I believe can help you break the intransigence and get started down the road to a make-it-happen culture:

1. Make a Decision

Too many leaders engage in endless conversations but fail to make decisions.  

As a leader, you should constantly ask yourself this question during meetings: What will be different when we walk out of this room? If you can’t answer that question, you just wasted everyone’s time.As a leader, you should constantly ask yourself this question during meetings: What will be different when we walk out of this room? If you can’t answer that question, you just wasted everyone’s time.SHARE ON X

Without decisions, there can be no movement, no progress, and no change.

Remember that a less-than-perfect decision today is often better than a perfect decision made too late. Decisiveness breeds momentum, and momentum is a powerful force in any organization.

2. Stop Trying to Please People

Being a people pleaser is a surefire way to ensure nobody is happy, especially you as a leader. Many leaders fall into this trap, often because they want to be liked or fear conflict.

This leads to a choice: you can be liked, or you can lead, but you can’t do both.

Leaders who constantly seek approval are often paralyzed by indecision. Instead, focus on what’s best for the organization and trust that the right people will understand and support your decisions.

3. Realize People Will be Offended

Any decision that requires leadership will offend someone. The hard part is deciding who to offend.

Jesus himself was no stranger to this reality. He offended the Pharisees when he welcomed outsiders.  While you should never go out of your way to offend people, real leadership can be controversial.

Sometimes, decisions to include outsiders will offend insiders no matter how hard you try.Sometimes, decisions to include outsiders will offend insiders no matter how hard you try.SHARE ON X

Remember, trying to make everyone happy means you will make no one happy, including yourself.

4. Follow Through

Too many great decisions die due to a lack of execution and follow-through.

Decision-making is just the beginning; the real work lies in execution. Creating clear channels of accountability is often the difference between a dream’s life and death. Without follow-up, even the best decisions fall flat.

So, establish a system of accountability within your team. Assign specific tasks to individuals and set deadlines. Regularly check in on progress and provide support where needed. Follow-up ensures that decisions translate into action and that action leads to results. It also shows your team that you are serious about making things happen, which can inspire them to adopt the same mindset.

5. Don’t Be Afraid

Fear can keep you from realizing dreams. But what do we have to fear when it comes to a mission that even the gates of hell can’t prevail against? Uncertainty and the potential for failure are often the stepping stones to success.

Creating a make-it-happen culture requires courage — the courage to make tough decisions, stand by those decisions, and follow through even when the path is unclear.

If you’re going to make it happen, you have to get past your fear. So, go for it

Creating a make-it-happen culture starts with you as the leader. Your actions, decisions, and mindset set the tone for your entire organization.

Next Steps

You can foster a culture of action and progress by being decisive, focusing on what’s best for the mission, accepting that not everyone will be happy, ensuring follow-through, and embracing courage over fear.

Remember, leadership is not about avoiding mistakes but about learning from them and continuously moving forward.

So, step up, make it happen, and watch your organization thrive. Soon, you’ll be willing to do what it takes no matter what.