5 min read

Christ’s Church of the Valley Case Study: Trust, Teamwork, and Transformation

Christ’s Church of the Valley Case Study: Trust, Teamwork, and Transformation

Christ’s Church of the Valley has achieved scores of Flourishing in the past five years, and while this is an amazing accomplishment, their scores have remained relatively consistent year after year. When there is little variability in score results and gains and losses are measurably small, how do you maximize learnings and continue to remain steadfast?

The Situation

Christ’s Church of the Valley, a large multi-site church in the Phoenix, AZ area, is one of Best Christian Workplaces' longest-standing Ministry Partners. They have conducted the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey annually since 2015 and achieved Flourishing in the past five years. An excellent example of a healthy church culture, ranking in the top 91% of all churches surveyed, they excel in several areas today, specifically goal clarity and consensus, humble and honest leaders, a fun workplace, and development opportunities. In 2023, 79% of employees were engaged! This is a true testament to their longstanding commitment to cultural health and continuous improvement.

By taking a balanced ministry-operational approach, Christ’s Church of the Valley demonstrates how a strategic approach to survey data paired with clear ministry direction leads to sustainable, long-term growth and a thriving, healthy church culture.

This case study explores how surveying annually, even when your culture is healthy and there is little variability in score results year after year, creates opportunities to finesse and fine-tune strategy and stay ahead of potential cracks in your culture foundation.

A Top-Down Approach to Trust

A strong and healthy culture starts with a foundation of trust and accountability. This is an important value at Christ’s Church of the Valley and is apparent in their survey results. In fact, their most recent survey results show 86% agree “There is a high level of trust between leaders and staff.” This is evident in the leadership’s commitment to exemplifying trust and teamwork in their daily interactions.

Senior Pastor Ashley Wooldridge has a passion for sustaining a healthy culture and leverages the collective talents of his leadership team to shape the future direction of Christ’s Church of the Valley. There is a clear spirit of collaboration amongst the Executive Team and their trust in each other sets the tone for the entire organization.

“I always feel like culture flows top down. Whatever you want needs to be practiced at the top of the organization. And we have an executive team of four people, and I would say the thing that we have worked on more than really anything the past few years is our teamwork and trust.” - Ashley

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Trust and teamwork go hand in hand. Teams need to trust each other to make any necessary movement or improvement. Implementing new initiatives identified from survey results requires a great degree of buy-in from employees; employees who trust each other and their leaders are much more likely to buy in.

In the same way, an important core value for Ashely is to “own the culture.” The survey process includes everyone from start to finish, which further emphasizes buy-in, trust, and accountability. Ashely and his team communicate the survey results with the entire staff, and they gather for a celebratory review and vision casting for the year ahead. This posture of celebration creates space to receive the results with appreciation, joy, and excitement for what is to come in the future.

The Value of Consistent and Ongoing Feedback

Receiving feedback, especially in the form of data and results from the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey, can be difficult. It’s easy for leaders to make assumptions or miss data connections because feelings can override facts. To combat the temptation to get defensive or discouraged about results, it’s important for leadership at the top to adopt a culture of openness and humility.

Christ’s Church of the Valley is a prime example. They take feedback seriously and use it as a catalyst for positive change within the organization. Ashley and his team not only humbly receive the feedback, but also prioritize a strategic approach to implementing it. Christ’s Church of the Valley uses the survey as strategic input into the areas they focus their time, energy, and resources. They learn from each year’s results and make adjustments along the way, coming back to measure their work the next year.

“[When we get our survey results] I have to humble myself and say, it’s what we're hearing. We've got to do something about this. Make sure you're really taking the feedback seriously. Have a way of measuring your culture and go do something about it. Don't let it sit there. The worst thing you can do is take a survey and do nothing about it.” - Ashley

A strategic approach starts first with a clear vision. Ashley and his team have worked diligently to craft a clear vision, and with an intentional pathway to their vision, they use the survey as a tool to measure whether or not they are on the right path. The survey serves as a tangible way to evaluate the strength and direction of the vision every year.

“We take it [the survey] at the end of the year to hold ourselves accountable. To evaluate are we actually creating a culture that we want? That's where this Best Christian Workplaces Survey comes in so key for us. But not just the Survey. It's the follow-up after the Survey too.” - Ashley

It’s important to have a disciplined approach to measuring culture that proactively addresses areas of concern as highlighted by the survey results. Simply surveying without taking action is counterproductive. Christ’s Church of the Valley excels by proactively addressing feedback and avoiding stagnation.

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Identifying Trends and Implementing Strategy

One of the greatest strengths of regularly surveying with Best Christian Workplaces is access to historical data and year-over-year trends. Even small adjustments are noticeable with the historical data the survey offers. With this information, leaders can evaluate new culture initiatives year after year and measure their effectiveness.

For example, Christ’s Church of the Valley’s historical survey results continuously pointed to a need for enhanced training and development opportunities. With 30% of the staff new to the organization, this became a pressing and growing need as the church continues to grow. A critical new initiative for Ashley and his team was developing clear pathways to growth and development.

To address this, leadership implemented several intentional initiatives:

  1. Leadership Fundamental Courses: Courses that teach essential leadership skills like team management, communication, and empowerment, and equip leaders with the necessary tools to effectively lead and manage their teams.
  2. Key Ministry Skills Courses: Courses that provide training on various pastoral responsibilities, including performing baptisms and offering support during crises or difficult situations, key skills required for those joining ministry staff with non-ministry experience.
  3. Role Certification Program: Equips staff members with a clear roadmap and standardized practices for their respective roles to ensure consistency and proficiency across key pastoral and non-pastoral positions.
  4. Learning Management System: A central knowledge base providing comprehensive resources and materials for staff development.

All of these initiatives demonstrate Christ’s Church of the Valley’s commitment to listening to their staff’s feedback and investing in their professional growth and development. What came out of a need identified in the survey resulted in a very positive response from the staff.

“We've really doubled down on the feedback we've heard from our team. It actually improved this year in our Survey. I think people have seen the investment. And now the hope is they apply. Just like our approach with sermons, we don't want to just teach them something and get in their heads. We want them to apply it. So that's what we've done.” - Ashley

Going forward, leaders can use the survey results to assess the impact of their efforts and continue to refine and improve the training and development initiatives. As they continue to innovate and iterate, the survey data also helps serve as a benchmark for ongoing improvements in all areas of the ministry.

By emphasizing the power of trust, demonstrating a commitment to annually surveying, and strategically implementing feedback, Christ’s Church of the Valley has created a thriving and flourishing culture where trust thrives, collaboration and teamwork lead to innovative and creative solutions, and the Gospel reaches thousands of members of the community each week.

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For more information about Christ’s Church of the Valley’s success with the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey, listen to the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast where Al Lopus, Cofounder & Board Chair of Best Christian Workplaces, talks with Ashley Wooldridge and Jeff Osborne, the Senior and Executive Pastors of Christ’s Church of the Valley.

Take the Next Step Toward a Healthy Church Culture

Like Ashley and the team at Christ’s Church of the Valley, you can use the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey to identify trends and areas of opportunity for growth.

Join the hundreds of churches around the globe who have also taken courageous steps to identify blind spots and improve their workplace culture through surveying.

Ready to get started? Request a sample report here.




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