Monday, June 20, 2011

A Code Of Conduct To Develop A Culture Of Honour

Possibly the biggest challenge in developing a great church, community, staff team, marriage, family and social relationships, is that of providing a culture of honour to surround, protect and foster these important relationships. A culture of honour transcends position by safely allowing all people to appropriately acknowledge, celebrate, and give to each other, the gift of who they really are and what they can positively and uniquely contribute.

To develop a culture of honour there needs to be a commitment to seriously encourage, practice, and be held accountable for the following foundational qualities in all social exchanges. With additions or deletions, these qualities could be used as a social and relational covenant in a variety of settings. Each quality is both named and explained using a statement of commitment.

I will at all times seek to speak well of others and encourage them especially concerning their giftedness, roles, and ministries

I will, apart from seeking personal confidential counsel, always seek to first address my concerns by directly communicating with those my concerns are about. If a person speaks to me about their concerns regarding another person, I will encourage them to seek a meeting with that person and offer if necessary to go with them for that purpose

I will take the initiative to appropriately raise my areas of concern according to Matthew 18,  believing that in so doing I demonstrate the value I place on preserving and strengthening relationships and the value God places on us each and on kingdom community

Appropriate self-disclosure
I will share with those with whom I have concerns, appropriate content, feelings and meaning associated with my concerns

Non-defensive active listening
I am willing to listen to others’ concerns about me without defence so as to accurately understand and have verified by them that I have understood their concerns (content, feelings and meaning)

I am “for” those with whom I have concerns, not “against” them, and so will offer them my respect by my listening, looking, speaking, word selection, tone of voice, reasoning, style of approach, body language and responses

I will always strive to be open, transparent, and true to myself in my communication

I will make every effort to consider others and my motivations, needs, values, feelings and attitudes

I will not say and do anything that will cause bad attitudes or further complicate problem(s) and concerns

I will always strive to honour my word and any commitments I make

I will attempt to appreciate how those who have concerns about me feel and why they feel the way they do, believing that their needs are valid simply because they see them as such

I am committed to finding a workable solution/outcome to dissolve concerns of others

I am open to help and development as I discover aspects of my thinking, behaviour, and attitudes that need to change

An elegant outcome
I will always aim for outcomes from my interactions and negotiations with others that are mutually beneficial and fair

A culture of honour takes time to develop so these qualities need to be discussed, owned, and practiced until they become habitual. When such qualities are enthusiastically and seriously embraced into any culture, they take relationships and teamwork to a new level not previously experienced.

Ric Benson
Senior Pastor
Kenmore Baptist Church


  1. This is a really good culture to develop in any church or mission organisation/organism. David, Chinese Church Support Ministries Sydney

  2. Thanks for the statement of commitment, Ric. We're looking at core values and the honouring of one another is important to us. Danny Silk's book, "A culture of honour" gives the understanding of this with some excellent examples of how it works in complex issues in church life.
    Di, Melbourne

  3. Great list Ric. I know this is most likely the tip of your ice-berg, so I have a question:

    How do you practically implement a 'Culture of Honour' and maintain the above as 'principles of love' rather than them becoming a list of rules as a 'Code of Conduct' or 'Statement of Commitment' implies?

    I have found difference and outcomes are huge which is all about attitude.

    With a 'non-control' attitude, I have learnt to set up a simple 'Code of Honour'(No Rules)even with anti-social young people, creating positive changes very quickly.

    The group feels emotionally safe to give and receive non-judgmental feedback and thus it becomes a powerful discipleship tool. The natural outcome is integration of the above Christ-like Values while working together.

  4. Megan, Willow CreekJune 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Russ - I've let Ric know you have a follow up question so hopefully we'll hear a bit more of the 'ice-berg' soon!

  5. RicBenson, Kenmore Baptist ChurchJuly 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    As with setting core values, mission and purpose statements, and codes of conduct for any organization, the key challenge is corporate alignment. Unless the changes are agreed to by the organization or church, and modeled in a gracious manner from the top down, they will never become part of the culture.

    A helpful insight into how this is done is found in the text Leading Change by John P. Kotter (Harvard Business School Press 1996). Kotter and a team researched many organizations to discover why change in organizations was difficult, and from their research proposed an eight step process to anchor a new culture into an organization. The eight stage process is as follows.
    The Eight-Stage Process
    1. Establish a sense of urgency
    2. Creating a guiding coalitio
    3. Developing a vision and strategy
    4. Communicating the change vision
    5. Empowering staff for broad-based action
    6. Generating short-term wins
    7. Consolidating gains and producing more change
    8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture

    In our own church with some 30 staff, it is a challenge to seriously implement such a culture of honour. One only has to silently observe the language and behaviour used by our staff (self included) toward each other which would be seen my most Australians as "healthy", to appreciate the frequent transgressions of the culture of honour. Adopting such a culture will be slow, and will need a heart commitment of leadership, then staff, and then ministries and finally congregation to establish such a culture. There will need to be a commitment to openly raise matters of concern, thus constantly keeping this matter on the agenda. Another helpful insight into developing a culture of accountability is found in ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni.

    It should be noted that this paper on a "Culture of Honour" is all about developing kingdom relationships. It is not a paper on core values for a church. It may be a descriptor of a core value that expresses commitment to developing kingdom relationships. Concerning Danny Silk's text on "A Culture of Honour", this text has some valuable insights into practice, which I included in a longer paper on this topic. Essentially, however, Danny's direction concerning a culture of honour has much more to do with the recognition and operation of a church and its leadership within the five fold apostolic ministries of Ephesians 4. I discussed Danny's propostion at length with him following his speaking at our church, and found that for many churches his proposal at this level was problematic and could even be somewhat divisive. For the church at Redding it seems as if in their particular and unique culture, such a culture works well.


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