Nurturing a culture of “Yes”

Written by Keith Doornbos
April 21, 2020

Floating off the waters of Bar Harbor, Maine is a crab boat named “Beth Said Yes!”  What’s the story behind that name?  Could it celebrate a deckhand coming home to a young wife with a dream to captain his own boat? That dream would demand putting everything on the line.  Beth, his young wife, hears his passion and, to the deckhand’s surprise, says “YES!”  The joy of that “yes” must infuse the culture of every turn-around church.  Churches that revitalize embrace risk taking and change with joy and anticipation. Grace and permission are the heart of renewal.

So, what does it take to nurture a culture of “YES!”?

Here are 6 essentials for nurturing a culture of change:


Getting to “yes” has a lot to do with the leaders who are in a room.  Some leaders are “green light” people (quick with a “yes”), some are “yellow light people” (reflective before offering a “yes”), and some are “red light” people (oppose every “yes”).  Celebrate green light people. Listen carefully to yellow light people.  But do not empower red light people or a ministry’s focus will be on fear rather than hope.

Essential 2: CREATE A B.A.U. OF CHANGE  

For most churches business as usual (B.A.U.) is to do business as usual.  Churches that nurture a culture of “yes,” however, embrace a B.A.U. of change.  A culture of change is created by regular infusion of small but noticeable changes: furniture is moved, worship times are shifted, rooms are updated, communication goes electronic, orders of service are refreshed.  The possibilities are endless.  Change becomes expected.


Churches resist providing a “yes” if they believe change is permanent.  If a decision is a 60-year commitment there’s going to be more resistance than if change is for the next 6 months.  Wise leaders create short-term experiments with a commitment to do a cost/benefit analysis at the end.


Congregations risk with leaders they trust.  They trust leaders who are faithful to a vision by never quitting half way through a process. They trust leaders who have been successful in previous risk-taking adventures.  They trust leaders focused on others rather than themselves.  They especially trust leaders who are seeking to live the Jesus life in everything they do.  The speed of change is about the level of trust.


The way to create momentum for future change is to celebrate achievements of past change.  Leaders should regularly pause community life to celebrate the good things God is doing through a congregation’s previous “yes.”  Tell a story, order a cake, post a picture on Instagram, call someone on the stage, mention a “win” in prayer…do whatever is necessary to celebrate achievements.


Congregants are more willing to offer their “yes” if they receive a “yes” themselves.    Leaders can’t expect a generous “yes” if they’ve been stingy in permission granting.  A true culture of “yes” is a culture of permission granting that flows outward to every department and every individual.  A generous culture of “yes” creates a church unleashed that transforms lives and communities for Christ.

Written by Keith Doornbos

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