We all want more volunteers and bigger teams. But what if the reason our teams aren’t growing is because the environment has become unhealthy and toxic. Here’s a hint. Culture killer #1: Dishonor.

Most team leaders recognize the importance of a healthy culture. I believe everyone wants it, but most people probably don’t really know how to get it.

The problem is that culture isn’t a list of bullet points or a set of policies. Culture isn’t something that can be mandated or ordered.

Culture isn’t something you do; it’s something you become.

In order for a culture of any kind to take root and grow, it first has to be embodied in the lives that are lived in each member of an organization or team.

The problem is that unhealthy culture can grow and develop just as quickly as healthy culture. And culture has the ability to make or break a team’s ability to grow or flourish.

Most of us serving in the tech arts world are probably very conscious of our team’s culture, even if we don’t realize it. We want people to enjoy serving on our teams, to have fun and engage, and be passionate about contributing to the greater cause of our ministry. But all of those things are fully dependent upon the type of environment that‘s created on our team in the first place.

We all likely want more volunteers and bigger teams. But what if the reason our teams aren’t growing is because the environment has become unhealthy and toxic, and it actually pushes people away from coming to serve with us?

I think there are some big “culture killers” that can negatively influence the environment of our teams and prevent us from growing the way we want. On the flip side, if we allow ourselves to embrace a healthy alternative, I feel that we can honor God during the process and create an atmosphere for us to receive his blessing.

So, what are some ways that we can kill our culture, and how to we turn that into a way to cultivate health instead?

1. Culture killer: dishonor. I once heard a pastor say, “That which you dishonor, you lose.” So, from a leadership standpoint, if I’m not able to properly honor those in authority over me, what right do I have to expect that God will put more people under my authority?

In our worlds, it can get really easy to be very open and free with our opinion, especially in the age of social media in which we live. As technicians, we’re often accustomed to being the “go-to” for many things, and it’s probably common for people to ask for our opinion or feedback. Getting so accustomed to sharing our feelings sometimes can lead to a lack of an appropriate filter, which gets especially dangerous when our teams are around.

We have probably all been in a place where we verbalize our frustration with the pastor or worship team for making some sort of last-minute change, after we’ve spent so much time preparing and loading everything for the service. Now, with this new wrinkle, they still expect us to pull a rabbit out of a hat to cover their lack of preparation, and it becomes easy to let our frustration show.

The problem is that our attitude is contagious. And the team around me sees and hears how I treat those spiritual authority figures of the church.

My response in those moments of frustration is critical, because how I handle them may determine how other people will end up responding to me when I make mistakes. If I’m not able to properly show restraint and honor my authority, my team will end up developing an unhealthy perspective of my leadership potential, and the team as a whole may stop growing.

The culture cultivator: always focus on honoring those in authority. When we remember the fact that we are willingly serving our church and submitting to the leaders above us, it can bring a certain amount of freedom.

I’m not the one carrying the weight of every decision that the church makes, nor do I probably want to. My job is to do everything to the best of my ability, while serving with gladness. That honors my leaders and honors the Lord, and I believe that creates a fertile and healthy environment that’s ready to receive God’s blessings

2. Culture killer: disorder. Sometimes it can get easy to become disorganized. When we have a small team or limited resources, we can be short on the time and energy necessary to plan, communicate, or organize. The problem is that by not being able to focus on the little details, it can sometimes allow bigger things to fall apart.

We may not think twice about the condition of FOH or the production booth. But for people not on the team, who may walk past those areas multiple times every Sunday, how we keep the space is an indication of how much value we place on the people who use it and the gear that’s in it.

When something is important to me, I treat it differently, and I make sure that it always is handled in a way that shows value. If my sound booth is always full of snack wrappers or empty coffee cups, what sense of value does that communicate, regarding how I see the importance of that environment? If cables are strung out all over the place, that will make it very challenging to troubleshoot or find something in a hurry, so how much do I really value excellence and attention to detail?

And if I’m a potential tech team recruit, how does that affect my thinking? If FOH looks like this, how poorly organized is the rest of the church?

Attention to detail adds value to my team as well. Planning ahead with communication, service planning, and even scheduling, shows that I’m intentionally thinking about how my actions affect others on my team.

When I’m not able to focus on the details, my team sees that, and it can impact their desire to focus on details as well, which could be represented in them showing up late, not preparing for their role, forgetting to confirm in Planning Center, etc. As the leader goes, so goes the team.

So the key culture cultivator is excellence, which is not the same as “perfection.” As imperfect people, we will always make mistakes. But a spirit of excellence reminds us that we should always work to do our best with the resources we have at our disposal.

Instead of thinking we can cut corners in the little things because they don’t matter, we must always remember that big things are comprised of dozens of little things. And if I want to grow in my influence and responsibility, I should never forget that if I’m too big to do the little things, then I’m actually too little to do the big things.

3. Culture killer: disconnection. When we’re only focused on our role and responsibilities, or we’re only looking at our service opportunity for how it can improve our reputation or resume, we disconnect ourselves from the larger mission of the church and can create a culture of selfishness and isolation.

The great thing about being part of a team is knowing that what we are part of is bigger than our individual role.

Our service isn’t about our “style” or “the way we want to do it”. We must become comfortable knowing that how we use technology should always be done to best support the mission and vision of the ministry areas of the church. In short, the gear is only in place to enhance the message.

Beyond that, when we aren’t thinking “big picture”, we can let the busyness or pressure of the role keep us from growing ourselves properly. If my only focus is just to exist on a day-to-day basis and cross things off the to-do list, then the church’s impact and growth will always be limited based on how much work I can balance on my plate at once.

However, when we start thinking beyond ourselves, and intentionally work to replicate others, we have embraced the understanding that our ability to teach and train others has a direct impact on whether the church’s vision will ultimately get fulfilled.

If I’m the only one that is capable of fixing a problem or running a service, then my own personal limitations will perpetually hold back the church’s opportunities. But as soon as I understand that my role in helping achieve long-term vision is to train and mentor others to help accomplish those things, I have created a connection between my seat on the bus and the ultimate destination.

The culture cultivator becomes big-picture thinking. When I’m not just focused on daily tasks, but consistently looking for ways to grow and replicate myself, our team embodies a culture of replication, which then draws in more people who know they’ll have a chance to grow and make an impact themselves.

Healthy cultures draw and attract new people. Those environments become exciting and contagious, and people can’t help but evangelize to their friends and family about the excitement they’re experiencing. An unhealthy culture simply pushes people away.

To grow the right way, a team needs intentional and strategic investment in the right areas. Above all, it’s my role as a leader to model the behavior and culture I want to see in my team.

Don’t build. Become.

This article originally appeared here.