In summing up, it’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe, and … no, that’s it … it’s the vibe. I rest my case.

Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora) The Castle, 1997

the DNA … the vibe!

Getting the direction of your ministry & mission and the culture of your team just-right!

This series of articles and collection of stories and ideas are here to help ministry and mission teams succeed.

When ministries or missions fail it’s sometimes hard to work out just why they didn’t work. Why didn’t they achieve their goals? Why did they implode? Why did they fail without anything being learnt?

As you read the content below, you will either be affirmed in your successes and in what your doing right or you will find out why things a mess and hopefully there will be some hints on how to improve things or how to get it right for next time.

We would love our expressions of ministry and mission to give God a good name!

There are many words that are used to describe underlying, fundamental building blocks of teams that bring Glory (a good name/reputation) to God. The word ‘ethos’ means “The disposition, character, or fundamental values peculiar to a specific person, people, culture, or movement”. [1] A recent surge of the use of the term ‘DNA’ also tries tackle this idea.

What ever ‘ethos/DNA’ is and what ever term is used and however you define it, a positive, constructive expression of it is needed to achieve a successful outcome. And it’s not just the outcome, every part of the process in achieving a Godly outcome will also give God a good name!. These fundamental, character-defining building blocks for all the processes and outcomes have to be right.

The 1997 movie, The Castle has a scene where a somewhat inept lawyer tries to argue ‘rightness’ of the case. His argument rests on an intangible notion he calls ‘the vibe’. It’s a classic scene. You can view it here at Youtube The Castle The Vibe if you like. (language warning)

Again, as difficult as it might be to describe the intangible, this section of Midst attempts to describe these building blocks of ministry, mission and team. The terms ‘ethos’, ‘flavour’, ‘DNA’, ‘character’, ‘values’ or ‘the vibe’ are interchangeable as we do the work to understand and define the underlying ingredients for success, however you may define success, in any given venture.

With this in mind, there are at least ten essential ingredients for growing the right ‘vibe’ in any mission, ministry or team.


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1. Holding to clear vision, belief, principles, mission statement & values

The ‘vibe’ needs be modelled and caught … and not just caught, but taught!

Holding to clear vision, belief, principles, mission statement & values
Each of these could be a section in themselves. Together they provide a foundation and a direction for ministry & mission. It’s one thing to have them stated on a piece of paper somewhere or for a leader or leadership team to have come to grips with them. It’s another thing for every team member to also know, understand, articulate, and follow them for themselves. When this happens, a team has ‘the vibe.’

2. Being biblical & Christian

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then modeled and caught!

Over the millennia, humans have sought to know and understand themselves and their relationships with others and God. God’s revelation to us humans, primarily through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has meant that God is known to us. We stand in the Truth of God’s revelation through creation, the Bible story, Jesus, the unfolding revelation of Holy Spirit, and through our theological traditions.
So, it’s one thing to have a piece of head knowledge about, say, a theology of mission or how the salvation of God is Good News, but when a team loves God’s Word and desires God’s purposes for themselves, a team has ‘the vibe.’

3. Spiritual integrity

Celebrate & foster the ways we CONNECT with children

Consistency in the above two areas will mean that stories, pictures, insights into Bible themes, emphases and principles are worked out and applied to each person and context in a way that expresses just-right relationships with the world, self, others and God.

That a team has grasped these and exude ‘the vibe’ will be evidenced in attitudes to living, interpersonal relationships, affirmation of the spiritual disciplines and practices of Christian tradition.

Recognising, telling and celebrating stories of this demonstrates that a team has ‘the vibe’.

4. Sensitivity to context

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

There is no ONE way to be and share God’s Good News concerning the Lord, Jesus Christ. Sensitivity to the whole person in a variety of contexts means that a ministry or mission will not run in a way that is insensitive to those needs. Sometimes a program will be changed on the spot because the people the program hopes to serve are more important. Safety in the context of program, people and places is also a priority.

When the majority of a team ‘gets’ this, a team has ‘the vibe’ and it’s infectious.

5. A relational – communal approach

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

Personalised relationships between team members and also with the people a team is hoping to serve is a distinctive of this approach. It is not a program-only-at-all-costs approach. The way we work, play, pray or celebrate WITH each other and those around us combine to communicate something of the love and the community of God.

A team that can ‘WITH’ with people has ‘the vibe’. A team who can not only do this but can also understand why they need to is gold!

6. Innovative cutting edges

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

One of the risks we take in ministry and mission is the risk of failure. We can rightly plan and pray about new things, but then sometimes we just need to give new things a go. This isn’t easy for everyone and care is needed to …communicate clearly; use the gifts of the team; listen to the cautious; take counsel from the wise; and use the energy of the fearless to do new things. Don’t do it just because something is ‘new’ lest we begin to worship ‘new’ but do it because the context we live in is changing and we can address change, adapt and be a prophetic voice in our culture and time in and through these new ways.

And when a team can ‘fail forward’, a team has ‘the vibe’.

7. Creativity and excellence

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

Imaginative, thoughtful and reflective methods to communicate God’s Good News can add and build on the tried and true methods. When every team member is encouraged to take initiatives to use their skills, gifts and ministries then we are open to the possibility that God can use each one of us in new ways. Discernment, prayer and training are always key in helping to release people into their full potential while maintaining a high level of excellence in all that we do.

When each team member senses they are needed, trained and encouraged to have a go, they have ‘the vibe’.

8. Humour

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

When a team can laugh together and cry together; disagree on this and that and do so with a great deal of respect; play and fight fair; have a laugh at themselves; affirm the joys of living life; not use humour to ride rough shod over people because of perceived short comings or disabilities; appropriately and sensitively find the humorous side of things even in the serious moments; and can ‘lighten up’ a little … then a team has ‘the vibe’.

9. Empowering, networking leadership

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

A leader or a leadership team that can build these sorts of ‘vibes’ in a larger ministry or mission team do so through carefully modelling, teaching, explaining and apprenticing each team member in all these elements.

Leadership that networks to recruit and empower a team in this pattern also does so with the expectation that the team will go on to express this sort of leadership in other spheres of influence. Leadership like this has ‘the vibe’.

10. Relational partnerships

The ‘vibe’ needs be caught and taught … and then caught and taught!

A relational – communal approach spills over into the possibility of partnerships with others. Prayerful and careful relationship often overcomes even major style differences. A shared project becomes more possible as a result. Sometimes the shared project comes first and prayerful, caring relationships follow. Just sitting down with others to review something or to share strategies for improvement or change can also build a partnership. Possibilities flow!

What ever the entry point for partnership, we can travel a short distance alone but together we can travel far. A team that looks for partnerships to help achieve common goals is a team with ‘the vibe’.

Ethos Consultancies & Training

There are a number of options to help get the direction right for you in this area

  • A phone or coffee conversation with Phil on this topic.
  • A review of your program and training against these keys to affirm and encourage those areas you are doing well and suggestions for improvement where and if required.
  • A presentation of an overview of these areas with discussion. (20 minutes or up to 1hr)
  • A 4hr workshop exploring one or more of these themes in a interactive discussion.