043 – What are Keystone Habits and why should we have them? [Podcast]

What do you really, really want?


Welcome to Season 1 Episode 43 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode, I shared my initial thoughts on exploring the concept of Keystone Habits, and invited listeners to join me on the journey.



Where the journey began

I’m currently reading, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.  A couple of concepts have gotten my “ponder-er” going and have resulted in my desire to share my thoughts with my listeners (and readers), even though I still have a lot of processing to do.

Key concepts

  • Habit loop: That is, the cycle of cue, routine, and reward that results in the formation of habits.
  • Keystone habits: Keystone habits create a chain reaction; changing and rearranging your other habits as you integrate the habit into your life.  According to Duhigg, Keystone habits “influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate”, and they “start a process that, over time, transforms everything.”

My processing

My ministry network, Harvest Baptist Association, recently went through an Association Unique process (based on Church Unique, by Will Mancini) where we identified a new vision pathway.  We identified our Mission, Values, Strategies, Measures, and Vision.

Identification of those has been exciting.  Now we begin the process of implementation.

When I started reading The Power of Habit, I thought, “What kinds of habits would make these other things more likely?  What are the keystone habits that need to be in place that will make success more likely?”

So, I started making a list.  Understanding that things like integrity, excellence, prayerfulness, and Biblical fidelity are necessary, but too general, I wondered what kinds of specific responses to certain cues would create the atmosphere where our vision could thrive.  In other words, what do I really, really want to happen with every encounter we have?

There is much work and processing left to do, but here are my initial thoughts on keystone habits.

Keystone habits – First draft

  • Healthy choices – We will get more healthy spiritually, physically, emotionally.
  • Optimism – We will see the glass as half-full and refillable.
  • Conversation – We will talk with each other. Lecture and monologues are counter-productive.
  • Risk – We will fear passivity more than we fear failure.
  • Generosity – We will not hoard resources.
  • Trust – We will trust people until they give us a reason not to, rather than making them earn it first.
  • Curiosity – We will ask more questions than we give answers.  We will seek to learn something from every situation.
  • Respect – We will treat every person with respect no matter how they react.
  • Blessing – We will seek to bless every person with whom we come in contact.  Encounters with us should be the highlight of their day.
  • Value – We will seek to add value to every situation and relationship.
  • Ownership – We are accountable to God and to each other for our responses.  We will not make excuses.
  • Alignment – We will constantly evaluate and realign our actions and responses in light of our vision.
  • Transparency – We will be open to scrutiny, feedback, and dialogue.  We will neither hide the truth nor hide behind the truth.
  • Assistance – We don’t do ministry for people or churches.  We assist them in their ministry.

Next steps

So, the next thing is to determine specific routines that allow these habits to happen.  That will be addressed in a future episode.

Question: If you were to think about the kinds of habits that you want within your church culture, what would they be?  Which of the above would be on your list?  What would you add that is not on the list?





To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

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*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)


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