Dear Christian Radio,
I am writing this article with as much generality as possible. One day, a few more miles down the road from here, I’ll be more specific.
The place where I serve is in a double, or even triple, sub cultural environment, religiously speaking. The listeners, the team members, the colleagues who help us deliver our product – most are in a subculture of a subculture (As if ONE subculture isn’t tough enough!).
To clarify what I’m talking about: being Christian is in itself a subculture. If Christians were unified with no disagreements, denominations, or digressions, we would be one happy, powerful, subculture. But, alas, we have many flavors of Christianity. Thus, enters another level of sub cultural-ness.
Just today, I heard a principle: the deeper a subculture grows and communicates only to and with itself, the further away from truth it gets. The answer here is that we need other voices to keep us from getting weird. And worse: “far from the truth.”
Now, I could camp out on the theological implications, but there are better trained teachers to do that. I will, however, use that principle to speak to the mixture of religion and our craft.
Because our business is about spreading God’s love (something sacred) through technology and media (okay, we’ll call that secular), we sometimes are tempted to put a guilt-tag onto something that is counter to a “best practice” in our industry. And maybe there are some God-inspired cases where you push conventional thinking aside for the awesome work of the Holy Spirit. (Just be careful not to confuse that with indigestion from last night’s pizza.)
What am I talking about?
As I mentioned, dealing with people who are passionate about a faith defined by a subculture-within-a-subculture often screams in the face of what we know to be a best-practice. If we simply argue and put up a fight that “research proves this” or “the entire radio industry operates successfully by these principles” and give it a “so, there!” attitude – what does that mindset accomplish? …Bonus point for assertiveness and unwavering. Subtract two points for creating a divide and three points for a missed opportunity to teach.
If you encounter someone who challenges conventional thinking, I’ve found it is always helpful to give ear – hear them out. Make sure you aren’t interjecting too soon, devaluing their opinions, or jumping to conclusions. After you’ve really listened, and only after, maybe you’ll have earned the right to carefully explain the differences. On occasion, they may have a valid point, an outside-the-box approach, or they may simply be speaking a different language than you. Dealing with vastly different approaches to business, ministry, tactics, and strategy are part of what makes life fun!
Culture Integration is taking all walks of life, all opinions and experience levels – and carefully weaving them together under patient (but focused) leadership that can bring the strengths of everyone on your team along to victory.
Oh, and don’t get discouraged if change doesn’t happen overnight – or after one staff meeting. It will take consistency in walking out your mission, showing compassion for people, and passion for the vision for the future that is the secret “simmering recipe” for harmony and unity.
P.S. One day, more specific examples, I promise! Patience, patience…
Dear Christian Radio,
- Beware of subcultures that derail your main mission.
- Strike a wise balance of inclusion and leadership.
- Have regularly scheduled reality-checks, to make sure your culture is still in line with your mission.
VP of Culture Integration
Positive Alternative Radio, Inc.