The sign in this image is next to the light switch in the break room of a church. While the intent to save electricity is great, it does provide for some interesting interactions. New staff members, volunteers, and vendors often turn off the light when they leave and this room is not occupied.
They read the sign and complied with its message!
So what is the problem?
There is an unspoken rule, “Don't turn the light off during work hours.”
Too often a veteran of the organization will walk in and verbally express frustration over the lights being off. And too often the “offender” is still within earshot.
So, the new people get confused about what signs, literal and cultural, that they can trust. This embarrassment and mistrust taints the person's experience with the church, its culture, and its staff.
The vendors, who we should be trying to build a relationship with and inviting to be a part of our church, are embarrassed and/or think the church is crazy.
This is just one of the more obvious examples of how the unspoken rules of culture create mistrust and disconnection. Maybe it's not necessarily the unspoken rules but how the organization's veterans react when a new person breaks those unspoken rules.
How would you make this sign more clear? What are some examples of unspoken rules for your staff or church that cause misunderstanding and hurt feelings?
Steve's passion is to help ministers and churches do ministry in our new digital, social, mobile world at the speed of life through building a strong ministry infrastructure (minfrasTructure). With a background in church administration, Christian education, missions, and technology, he offers advice, tips, and tools through writing, blogging, podcasting, speaking, online courses, consulting, and personal coaching.
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