Exposing the Darkside: The Importance of Organizational Health for Churches

“The culture of your organization impacts the work that you do. If only 20 percent of your employees feel connected to your mission and vision, that does not underscore the importance of organizational health.”
Joe Lloyd

Organizational health for churches is pivotal in determining the success of any establishment, be it a large corporation or a local church, every organization has an internal (and external) culture that exists on a spectrum of health, even churches.


Assessing organizational health might feel abstract, and you might have questions like, “How do we measure something that isn’t tangible?” so let’s start with Dragon Boat Racing.


That’s right, Dragon Boat Racing. 


Its inception dates back to 5th century China and is similar to rowing or sculling. Teams of up to 16 individuals align in pairs in grand, canoe-like vessels adorned with intricate dragon heads and paddle in unison. 


However, the sport has an intriguing variant: Dragon Boat Tug of War


Here, the teams are poised to race, not alongside each other, but in the opposite direction while seated in the same boat. It’s an energetic, noisy, and splash-filled event with remarkably little movement. Regardless of the immense amount of energy people are expending, there is hardly any movement, and at times, they’re going backward.


Do you ever find yourself and your church in a similar position? 


You’re all in the same boat but not going in the same direction. Everyone is exerting energy and passion, but, at best, you’re not getting anywhere, and, at worst, you’re working against one another. 


The importance of organizational health cannot be emphasized enough when teams feel like they are constantly pulling against each other, regardless of how passionate or committed each member is. In such scenarios, the church culture needs re-evaluation, and it might be time to assess your church and its culture. 


But, before we get to the “how” of assessment and revaluation, let’s go a little deeper on “why” organizational health is important.


Organizational Health for Nonprofits

You’re (Not) Going to Want to See This Stat About the Importance of Organizational Health in Churches

If you poll your staff, elders, or key volunteers, what percentage would feel connected to your church’s culture? 50 percent? 80 percent? As a church or nonprofit, you’re likely assuming (read: hoping) that number is nearer 100 percent than 50 percent. 


A Gallup poll from 2018 showed that only 20 percent of employees in the U.S. feel connected to their company culture. 


Twenty. Percent.


Think about running an organization or a church where only one in five people working there feel connected to your culture. To return to our boating metaphor, imagine white water rafting with five people, and only one is paddling and trying to navigate the river. 


One could argue that this is about large companies and not about mission-driven churches; however, even if that percentage is twice as high (40 percent), it is still below half of your church’s staff.


We’re telling you this because the culture of your church impacts the work that you do. If only 20 percent of your staff feel connected to your church’s mission and vision, that does not lend itself to organizational health.

Organizational Health for Nonprofits

How Would People Feel About Seeing the Sausage Made?

You’ve likely heard the idiom, or some variation of it, about seeing how the sausage is made. The exact origins of the phrase is uncertain, but it likely came from the literal process of making sausage, which entails the unappetizing combination of meaty leftovers and the parts of meat you typically wouldn’t eat by themselves. It’s an unappealing process, and I’m not only saying that as a vegetarian. 


The importance of organizational health is a lot like making sausage: there’s a turnoff for people once they’ve seen how the sausage is made and they might become disillusioned with whatever they were once infatuated with. Can the same thing be said of your oragnziational health if someone saw “how the sausage was made?”


Churches and nonprofits can experience a similar disillusionment when people see how the sausage is made. The temptation can be to project a polished exterior while grappling with internal challenges in order to avoid this disillusionment. This feels like the ever-present challenge in our digital age, both for individuals and organizations. Does your public image match what happens behind closed doors?


Would you be comfortable letting your organization’s staunchest supporters attend board or staff meetings? How would they perceive the internal dynamics of your church or nonprofit? 


Metaphorically, if someone saw how the sausage was made would they still want to eat it? Literally, if they saw the internal relational dynamics of your organization would they still want to be a part of it?


Unfortunately, a deeper dive often reveals flaws. 


Flaws might include boards that don’t engage spiritually in your organziation, gossipping among staff, lack of transparency from leadership, unresolved conflicts that fester, and on and on. While no organization is flawless, there’s a distinction between healthy and unhealthy ones.


The genuine health of a ministry isn’t just about its public image or its achievements but its inner reality and dynamics.


If you hesitate at the thought of revealing the inner workings of you organization, that might be a good indication it’s time to pay attention to the importance of organizational health. 


The Importance of Organizational Health Impacts Everyone… So All Aboard!

Sorry, that was cheesy, even for us, but we wanted to keep the boat theme going.


Digging into the importance of organizational health for churches and your culture is hard work. It requires a lot of reflection, honesty, hard conversations, and willingness to change. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s better when everyone is in the same boat going in the same direction. 


A weak organizational connection might not immediately equate to failures, but it surely hampers the potential. Recognizing the importance of organizational health, it becomes evident that more than a few people require in-depth introspection, transparent conversations, and a genuine willingness to embrace change. 


You’re not alone. We love working with churches of all shapes and sizes and believe that branding, creativity, and organizational health can all work together to strengthen your work. Let’s see what we can do together.


In the meantime, one of our favorite things we do as a team is creating resources for church and nonprofit leaders so you all can fully thrive in your work. Download our free resource to assess your organizational culture and learn how you can continue to make strides toward health and flourishing. 


Joe Lloyd
Amenable Alumnus
Joe describes his job as capturing the imagination of anybody who encounters his writing. More specifically, though, he wants collaborators to feel courageous in their ambitions for their organization and its mission. In his spare time, Joe can be found exercising his comprehensive knowledge of 90s Christian music or his compulsion to run—he once ran a hundred-mile race.


Sign up for updates, tips, and advice that’s not available anywhere else—sent directly to your inbox.
Give me ideas about:
Amenable empowers mission–driven people to cultivate trust and communicate honestly through kind and creative brands.

We’re always collecting the best ideas and advice for mission-driven people and orgs.

(You’re gonna wanna hear them.)
Give me ideas about: