Three Tips On How To Build Staff Culture: An Antioch Community Church Case Study

These HYT cards provide room to write a colleague's gifts or act of service.  They are read aloud at staff meetings.  Read on for more details.

These HYT cards provide room to write a colleague’s gifts or act of service. They are read aloud at staff meetings. Read on for more details.

Challenge:
In 1999, 400 people participated in the first worship services at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. From the get-go, Antioch’s workplace emphasis on Christian character, transparent relationship, and a collaborative work style generated a high level of engagement and mutual trust among the initial staff of ten. How is it that now, 14 years later, mutual trust continues to permeate and strengthen a staff of 100 despite the pressures and demands required to serve and involve a growing community of 3,000 weekend attenders?

Strategy:
“Worship, as a staff, is huge in our bi-monthly staff meetings,” says Executive Pastor Jeff Abshire. “When we worship together we’re praising God together, praying for each other, sharing stories of the Lord at work in our lives. And as we do this, two things become clear:


  • We’re going to work a whole lot better together, if we’re unified in the Spirit. Therefore:
  • If we’re all growing closer to God, and each other, we’re naturally going to trust one another more. Our staff likes working together, because they’re continually feeling built, together.”
Involvement. Recently the openness and transparency of Antioch’s culture paid dividends when their Best Christian Workplaces engagement survey revealed that employees desired to be more involved across the board in tackling church issues. New “solution groups” now generate fresh ideas and possible new approaches. Even more significant is another practical strategy that’s generated 100% staff participation—and enjoyment: HYT Cards.

Recognition. “HYT” (pronounced “hit”) stands for “Him, You, and Them,” Antioch’s shorthand for its three-fold goal that each member 1) grow in Christ consistently, 2) honor and nurture one’s significant relationships and 3) reach out to those who don’t yet know the Lord. Each HYT card provides room to write and affirm a particular colleague’s gifts and a specific act of service. Reading the comments aloud at staff meetings becomes a cymbal crash of affirmation and encouragement to each humbled staffer.
Says Abshire, “What we’re doing with these cards isn’t all that glamorous. It’s just simple, and it can work for any size staff or leadership team. Not only is the affirmation needed and appreciated, it’s biblical: “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” [1 Thessalonians 5:11].

Results:
Worship, staff involvement and recognition are just three ways Antioch Community Church is hitting home runs of employee engagement and effectiveness in its Christ-centered, affirmative-minded workplace.

P.S.
Antioch trains church members to volunteer as reading mentors at a local public elementary school. Last semester, the number of mentors increased over 400%, from 25 to more than 100.

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  • Mark Simmons

    I love the practical strategy that was shared. I’ve used something similar in both secular and Christian workplaces and seen the powerful effect they have on people and groups.

    However, for the benefit of my brothers and sisters at Antioch and elsewhere, can I point out an irony? Look at the 3-fold goal called HYT: 1) grow in Christ consistently, 2) honor and nurture one’s significant relationships and 3) reach out to those who don’t yet know the Lord. Wonderful goals! But they do not include relational discipleship, which is the very thing being practiced with the cards! Taken at face value these statements point toward a discipleship model where each individual is responsible for their growth in Christ, but Jesus’ model was relational, and Antioch obviously sees the value in the relational model–they just featured an example of relational discipleship–calling out in others the giftedness we see in them. In fact, you see elements in this carried out in Best Christian Workplaces time and time again.