Preparing for the Future

Discovering the

Internal Culture of St. Andrew’s

by Canon Ron McCrary

For over 140 years, God’s providence has blessed St. Andrew’s in countless ways, visible and invisible. Many generations of faithful people have invested themselves in partnership with the Lord to create the living legacy that is St. Andrew’s. Now, this present time of transition is a defining moment for St. Andrew’s, which is why the Vestry and I are so committed to working diligently as a leadership team and inviting the parish to participate in the exciting work of preparing for the new chapter.  

Gaining clarity about St. Andrew’s powerful internal culture is the first major step to prepare well for a strong new future. Everything else that follows — such as strategic planning, calling a new Rector, making major decisions about parish ministries, etc. — requires us to understand St. Andrew’s DNA. 

Why is this process so important? Because second only to God’s powerful presence and provision, parish culture is a congregation’s most powerful force. As Peter Drucker is often quoted, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Carol Childress said to us, “A church’s deepest level of culture is more powerful than vision or mission; is deep, complex, and largely unseen; includes people, processes, structure, values, vision, respect, power, facilities, procedures, communications, trust and leadership; is essential in calling a new Rector and other staffing decisions.” 

  The Vestry and I asked Carol to lead our parish through a process that will help develop greater clarity about St. Andrew’s culture, which will guide and shape everything that comes next. Carol is a deeply devoted Christian with a distinguished longtime ministry of working effectively with churches and Christian ministries, especially in the areas of congregational culture and navigating times of transition.

  Carol’s work with St. Andrew’s began with Vestry, Staff and a representative cross-section of our membership participating in listening groups with Carol or completing a questionnaire, or both. I really wish that everyone could have participated in Carol’s first round at St. Andrew’s, but due to the large number of hours required for Carol to listen, read, analyze and interpret the information she collected that was not possible. If you would like to contribute any of your thoughts about St. Andrew’s culture, please email or call me. There will be another major opportunity this fall for every one of St. Andrew’s parishioners to participate in shaping our future together.

Carol will present a report of her findings to the Vestry. Then we will prayerfully consider Carol’s report as we refine a description of St. Andrew’s deepest culture. You are invited to participate in Carol’s parish-wide presentation of her discoveries about St. Andrew’s culture along with some possible implications for our future during the Sunday Adult Class hour: Sunday, June 18, 9:15 - 10:15 AM in Moncrief Hall. 

I really hope you will save the date and do everything possible to hear what Carol learned, the Vestry’s perspective, and how that can inform our preparation for the next chapter at St. Andrew’s.

Some of the steps that will build on the results of discovering and articulating our culture include:

  • St. Andrew’s leadership listening for the Lord’s voice and seeking to understand his guidance, and following where he leads in everything we are doing to prepare for the future. 

  • the Vestry and I, in partnership with the parish using our increased understanding of St. Andrew’s DNA will refine our present statements of mission and core values to make them clear, concise, compelling and memorable; will prayerfully examine how St. Andrew’s culture is aligned with Scripture. 

  • a parish-wide workshop this fall that will give every parishioner an opportunity to contribute to envisioning and preparing for the future. 

It is vitally important that every person at St. Andrew’s be able to easily remember and state St. Andrew’s highest purpose. Crystal clarity about our mission and values will keep us united as a church and provide guidance systems for the most important decisions ahead. 

The preceding steps will enable us to conduct an excellent search for the next Rector, being sure that there is a good alignment between a possible new Rector and St. Andrew’s culture, Mission and Core Values. As you may remember, Bishop Iker asked the Vestry to wait until sometime between September 2017 and January 2018 to begin the search process for a new Rector. That timing allows the Vestry and me to lead our parish to be ready to walk into the great new future God is already preparing for us. 

The Vestry and I invite the entire parish to join in praying for the important work during this momentous time for St. Andrew’s.