The Alignment Factor. Creating a Great Guest Culture

Editors Note: During our August focus on Guest Experiences, we are honored to have some of the best voices in the world of Customer Experience provide guest posts for the Vision Room. As you read the content below, simply think “Guest” where you see the word “customer” – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


One of the most important ways to improve customer service is to make sure that everyone in an organization is in alignment with the customer service and/or experience vision. While the concept is just one word, there are several steps to achieving alignment.

The first step is to define that vision in simple and memorable terms. So, if you’ve been following my work, go back a few weeks to the concept of creating your customer service mantra, which is my fancy word to describe a customer service vision statement. Before you can get everyone into alignment, you must give them something to align with. I like a vision statement or mantra that is short and to the point. So, if you don’t already have a vision for everyone to align to, you’re going to need one.

Assuming you have the customer service vision statement – or mantra, as I like to call it – the next step is to prove how everyone in the organization impacts that vision. And, I mean everyone!  Start with your basic customer journey map that shows all of the typical interactions – or touchpoints – that the customer has when doing business with you. And you may need more than one map.  A customer’s sales journey is different than a service or support journey. The interactions a customer has on your company’s website will be different than over the phone or in person.

There is a second part of the journey map exercise, to show underneath each touchpoint how different departments and roles within those departments impact those touchpoints. If done correctly, you will eventually be able to show how each and every department – in other words, everyone – impacts the customer’s experience.

I know I’m sounding redundant, but if you haven’t already done the crucial steps of creating a vision and journey map – and I’m surprised at the number of organizations who haven’t yet done so – you have extra work to do before you can think about getting your employees into alignment.

And, now it’s time to get everyone into alignment. By getting everyone to know and understand your customer service vision, and showing on a journey map how everyone, even as individuals, impact the customer’s experience, you can begin to train everyone to your vision. This is simple in concept, but not always easy to do. You must have an effective communication strategy. It can start with an announcement. It must be articulated as not just a vision, but also an expectation that everyone must keep in mind, regardless of their role and responsibility in the organization.

And just announcing and communicating it is not enough. Each and every employee must be properly trained. It must constantly be reinforced. It must be obvious and almost overt. For employees to be in alignment, they must know it, understand it, and be able to execute it.

Customer service isn’t just for the customer service department or the front line. It’s everyone’s job. So, if there is one thing that will make a difference in your customer service, it is to get everyone in the organization in alignment with your customer service mantra.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Signs Your Team is Getting Along But Not Going Anywhere

Healthy teams are both aligned and attuned. Alignment refers to the commitment to the mission and identity of the organization. Attunement refers to the relational care and concern that the team exhibits for one another. Both are essential. In this post I wrote about warning signs your team is aligned but not attuned. Today I want to offer three warning signs your team is attuned but not aligned:

1. Fuzzy mission

Without alignment around mission, people begin to only exist for each other and not those the team is designed to serve. When a team is not aligned, the mission is unclear or buried on a document somewhere. When alignment is missing, a sense of mission is missing as well. The result is actions and activity disconnected from a sense of “this is why we exist.”

2. Low accountability

When a team has a compelling mission and a deep-seated conviction that “this mission must be accomplished,” accountability will likely be high. But because accountability can be uncomfortable, a team not aligned around an overarching agenda will fail to offer it. Conviction and mission foster expectations and accountability. When a team is not aligned, expectations are low. Low expectations always result in low accountability.

3. Results?

Attunement without alignment results in people who enjoy each other but don’t accomplish much. In fact, a team attuned to one another but not united around a grand mission will rarely evaluate their impact. Why would they? Though they may never say, “Results? That is not why we exist,” collectively they believe it.

If a fuzzy mission, low accountability, or failure to evaluate results plagues your team, engagement in and alignment around an overarching mission must be ramped up. And wise leaders know mission drift is inevitable unless it is constantly clarified and communicated.

> Read more from Eric.


If you would like to learn more about team alignment and attunement, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Alignment Eats Accomplishment for Lunch

When you have a vague or undefined strategy, your leaders will invent their own.

Auxano Founder Will Mancini believes that over 90% of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity. Many churches have some kind of expression for mission and values, but not for strategy. The absence of strategy, as Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church.

This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits to advance the mission.

When you don’t have a strategy, or your strategy isn’t clear, a threefold problem can occur:

  • too many ministry or program options and no prioritization;
  • ministry options that have no relationship with one another;
  • ministries themselves have no connection to the mission.

Having a clear map – one that shows how you will get things done – is a strong indicator that the effectiveness of your mission will go through the roof. Strategic clarity can birth a quantum leap in your ministry.

Build for team alignment rather than individual accomplishment.

THE QUICK SUMMARY: Execution IS the Strategy, by Laura Stack

In today’s world of rapid, disruptive change, strategy can’t be separate from execution—it has to emerge from execution. You must continually adjust your strategy to fit new realities. But, if your organization isn’t set up to be fast on its feet, you could easily go the way of Blockbuster or Borders.

Laura Stack shows you how to quickly drive strategic initiatives and get great results from your team. Her LEAD Formula outlines the Four Keys to Successful Execution:

  • The ability to Leverage your talent and resources
  • Design an Environment to support an agile culture
  • Create Alignment between strategic priorities and operational activities
  • Drive the organization forward quickly

She includes a leadership team assessment, group reading guides, and bonus self-development resources. Stack will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to help you hit the ground running!

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

If members of your team are working hard but have lost focus of the mission of your organization, you are facing a double threat: your overall mission is not being accomplished and your team members are likely heading toward burnout.

The most successful team members work together for more than a paycheck or for keeping busy. They are engaged in the mission, and feel that they are an important part of achieving that mission. They are serving with a sense and purpose of something that is greater.

On the other hand, team members who have lost focus on the mission of the organization may just be going though the motions of working together. When this occurs, the organization is entering a danger zone.

Even those who work the hardest will inevitably crash and burn in their productivity if they lose track of the mission. Help them reorient and align themselves if they’ve lost their focus on their mission with a 4-R Reconnection Strategy.

Reestablish awareness. Have team members evaluate their current positions by asking, “Which of my activities contribute most of my value to my organization.” If they can’t answer that, have them invest personal time in figuring out where they got off course and how they might fix it.

Realign them. Make sure the mission and their perception of it match up. If your team becomes misaligned, they may be wasting time on the wrong things. If that is the case, it doesn’t matter how hard they work to get the job done; their productivity will crash.

Repair their connection. Once your team members know where they are and where they should be, have them make any necessary course corrections. After that, help them tweak or overhaul their workflow process to get it back on track and in sync with the mission.

Rededicate them to the mission. Have the team members reaffirm their commitment to your organization. Help them understand how each contributes to the collective effort to move the organization forward.

Laura Stack, Execution IS the Strategy

A NEXT STEP

Using the Four-R process above, realign your leadership team to the mission of the church.

First, write “Our Mission” on the top of a flip chart page and hand every person a sticky note. Without looking at phones, tablets, or printed materials, have each leader write the mission of the church from memory on a sticky note. Place all the notes on the flip chart page. Discuss the results, noting the degree (or lack of) shared knowledge of the church’s mission. (Remember Howard Hendricks’ ageless quote: if it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.)

Now write the actual mission on another flip chart page, and with a renewed focus on the missional mandate of the church, have each leader write ministry activities that CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission on one color sticky note and ministry activities that while good, DO NOT CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission.

How can your leaders help each other to focus activity toward mission accomplishment? How can you learn from each other and lean toward God’s calling for the church? Record some specific initiatives and next steps on a third flip-chart page, assigning responsibility to a team member.


Taken from SUMS Remix 38-1, published April 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Vision, Alignment, and Generosity Became One Church’s Future

About two years ago we received contact from Church at The Mall in Lakeland, FL. They had just launched an initiative with seven missional components. These action items were big, really big. The intent was to propel an already active church with a miraculous story into a bold new future. Of course, these seven missional objectives needed to be funded. Naturally, a three-year capital campaign would be the solution. HOLD ON! What if vision, alignment, and generosity could be the solution for their new future?

Here are the seven missional objectives, our approach, and some of the results we’ve seen less than two years into the work.

Missional Objectives:

  1. Raise $1million each year for missional causes while reducing church debt
  2. Maximize their outreach and efforts
  3. Advance and expand their media ministry
  4. Needs assessment for staff, space, finances, and times
  5. Launch a multi-site campus approach
  6. Develop a Center for Discipleship and Education
  7. Develop methodical and comprehensive life stage discipleship from cradle to college

Approach:

  1. Create two one-day offerings immediately to take a huge leap forward with debt reduction and missions giving. Palm Sunday was utilized to catalyze those who were passionate about debt reduction. The entire offering that Sunday was deposited toward their debt. Then on Easter Sunday, Church at the Mall built bridge relationships with multiple non-profits in the community that aligned with the church vision. The entire offering was given away to impact the city. It was a bold step on many fronts. The staff and church leaders needed to decide how committed they were to the missional objectives. What would happen if they gave two complete offerings away at the beginning of the year? How would that impact ministry, even their jobs? Their unified faith would be more than rewarded.
  1. Clarify their Vision, create culture, and discipleship Measures. TheVision Framing process of Auxano was utilized to create the organizational engine and culture needed to accomplish the seven missional objectives. A repeated priority on prayer, fasting, and the anointed life would provide the fuel. This focus led to a clear articulation of a three-pronged Strategy. The Strategy would align ministries to work best together delivering the results of their Vision. This would require big conversations related to aligning programming, staff, calendar, facility, and resources. Good activity would not compete with visionary accomplishment.
  1. Develop a Generous Culture. When Vision is clear, resources are aligned, and results are measurable, it releases people. They knew where the church was headed, how they could grow, where they could live a big life, and confidence that their generosity was making a difference beyond themselves. We identified the different types of givers in their church from those who gave nothing to those living generously beyond a tithe. Each person was able to identify with a giving hero in the Bible that was relatable to their stage of life and financial situation. Curriculum was developed. A year-long growth path was revealed. Every person and family could find their way to grow a generous life for the sake of long term kingdom investment.

Results:

  • Total church indebtedness was reduced by 26% or $1,056,799.
  • Total church missions giving increased by 35% or $216,953.
  • Yearly undesignated giving increased 6% and this is not counting the special offerings taken on two consecutive Sundays.
  • General offerings increased by 12% prior to summer months, and this is not including the special offerings received.
  • Average gift per family increased 21% year to date. (Measured the first several months of three consecutive years)
  • Families or individuals giving digitally increased 19%.
  • The church was given a church facility in a neighboring town worth $1,700,000. A new campus was launched with hundreds in attendance.
  • Media is being maximized via new brand development, website, and app.
  • Discipleship Measures were created for all ages along with custom written curriculum.
  • Outreach is on a path to being maximized via new outreach Bible studies, online services, and a new television program.

Not too bad for less than two years of focused activity. Dream big, get focused, pray boldly, and enjoy the clarity.


To learn how this process could help your church, connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


> Read more from Todd.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Burying a Program

Since writing Simple Church with my boss Thom Rainer, a common question has been, “How can we eliminate a program or an event?” Those who ask the question often know that a program on their church calendar accomplishes very little for the Kingdom and is not aligned to the mission of their church. But they wrestle with the impact that canceling a program or event will have on the people they serve.

The reality is that canceling a program or event is very difficult, often painful. Several years ago when Google began to skyrocket and Yahoo plummeted, people wondered why Yahoo did not merely simplify their homepage. Why did they not learn from the simplicity of Google and streamline? A Google executive responded that it would be impossible for Yahoo to do so because behind every link was a “shareholder or a stakeholder.” Someone paid for those links or some team invested years in the ideas represented by each link. The same is true in a church program. Behind every program is a shareholder or stakeholder – someone who invested and people who love the program or event.

While burying a program is difficult, it is often necessary. Without a proper burial, the church will continue to rob energy, resources, and attention from more important programs to merely keep the unnecessary ones afloat. German philosopher, Goethe, wisely stated, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-16a, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise–making the most of the time.” Paul could have used the word “chronos” for time – the word we get “chronological” from, a word that speaks of time in general terms. But Paul used the word “kairos” which speaks of time in terms of the short amount of predetermined time that we have to steward while living. In other words, you only have so much time – so live wisely. Don’t waste time and resources funding, promoting, pushing, or resourcing something that steals energy from the best.

As you move toward burying a program, here are three lessons I have learned from both observation and experience.

1. AFFIRM SHARED VALUES.

Before you cancel a program, do some digging on the original intent and motivation of the program. What need was being addressed? What was the heart of the leadership? Find the values that initiated the program and affirm the ones that are important to your church. Show how the new future without the program will be a continued expression of those values. Show how the original redeemable motivation behind the program is going to be realized in a new way.

2. GRAB THE ENERGY OF THE LEADERS FOR THE NEW.

If you cancel an event or program without attempting to grab the energy of the current leaders, realize that their energy will go somewhere. Instead of merely dismissing their investment, invite them to be a part of the future. For example, if you eliminate a specific program because you feel it steals energy from your ongoing group strategy, invite the leaders to be leaders in your groups. Pursue them for the new direction.

3. BE VISIBLE.

Change is hard, not only on the people but on the ones instigating the change. After all, the conversations in the hallways aren’t always pleasant. The tension is something we often like to avoid. It is easy to hide in your office during a change initiative.

But be visible. Love people through the change. The conversation in the hallway may end up being redemptive. Ultimately you are making the change for the good of the people you serve, so don’t forget about them in the middle of the process.

Make the most of the limited time you have. Do what is most essential for the Kingdom.

 Read more from Eric here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Tweets from The Nines | Growing Kids Ministry — 10/26/12 11:22 am

[...] Behind every program is a stakeholder–so how to simplify programming? @RealEricGeiger http://visionroom.com/burying-a-program/ …#nines2012 [...]

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When Your Church Needs New Wineskins

One day a group of people approached Jesus, confused that his disciples were not fasting. After all, John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees were fasting. Why were Jesus’ disciples not as committed to “doing the right things”?

Jesus answers the question about his disciples’ lack of fasting with an illustration of a wedding feast. Jesus introduces himself as the bridegroom who has a special relationship with his bride. When the bridegroom is here, it is time to rejoice—to feast. But when he is gone (a foreshadowing of his death, resurrection, and ascension), fasting will resume.

Jesus was not against fasting; he was against fasting for the sake of checking fasting off a spiritual checklist. To show that the man-made system of religion could not contain his grace, he used two common cultural illustrations:

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new patch pulls away from the old cloth, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins (Mark 2:21-22).

The old clothing cannot handle the new patch; the old wineskins cannot handle the new wine. The old man-made legalistic system of the Pharisees could not handle the grace revolution of Jesus.

While the illustration Jesus gave is clearly about the inability of a system to contain his grace, I also find his illustration helpful in thinking about the growth of a ministry/church. In many churches, what the Lord desires to do will disrupt the current structure. Often new wineskins are needed.

Church Architects

As church leaders architect their staff structures, they must design them in a scalable manner, in a way that allows for growth. But growth creates new problems and sometimes demands new structures. Here are three common philosophical tensions that confront leadership teams as they consider their structure. There are godly and wise advocates on opposite sides of each spectrum. My goal is not to convince you of one philosophy over another or to resolve the tensions, but to help you surface the discussion points. The more a leadership team aligns on a philosophy of each of these “tensions,” the easier it will be to stretch the wineskin/broaden the structure.

As you read these, please understand I am not addressing the people—merely the structure. Having the right leaders, who fulfill the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and love well, is infinitely more important than structure. In fact, a good structure will never make up for bad leadership. But godly and great leaders can overcome an inhibiting structure. Still, that is no excuse for eschewing wisdom on how to steward the responsibilities given by God to church leaders.

(1) The ‘Flat/Span of Care’ Tension

Typically, a flat structure has less management. Here is an extreme example: A middle-school pastor may report directly to the lead pastor in one church. In another church, he may report to the senior student pastor, who reports to the pastor of spiritual formation, who reports to the executive pastor, who reports to the senior pastor. Those who advocate a flat staff structure point to the obvious advantages: cheaper and faster. Each additional level of staffing adds costs to the church. And each additional level of staffing slows down communication and decision-making.

But before you sign on to the flat line structure, consider a potential pitfall: the flatter the staff structure, the less development and energy each staff member receives from his/her supervisor. At one point in my tenure as Christ Fellowship Miami’s executive pastor, I had 18 direct reports. As the church grew, we kept adding to the team without adding layers. I loved the speed and the stewardship, but at that point, I could not provide the care and coaching as I should. And to encourage spiritual transformation in churches, staff teams should be nurtured. So while flat structures express stewardship, span of care speaks to the issues of discipleship and development. Span of care theorists would argue for 4 to 6 direct reports to managers.

Your leadership team should wrestle with this tension. How flat do you desire to be? If you lean toward the flat side, how will you ensure the staff receives coaching and care?

(2) The ‘Lean/Ahead of Growth’ Tension

The biblical argument for a lean staff emphasizes the priesthood of believers—every believer is gifted to serve others—and reminds pastors that they equip the body. If all of God’s people are invited into the ministry of the church, staff members are not hired to “do ministry” but to “lead and train others” for ministry.

Often churches that spend 45 percent to 55 percent of their budget on personnel costs are considered to be in the average range. We find tension here, though, because some advocate that church leaders hire “ahead of the growth.” For example, a church in a college town has few college students attending—not enough to justify a staff member in the minds of many on the leadership team. They could wait for college students to attend, though they haven’t shown up in the last decade. Or they could staff ahead of the growth and invest in the role now.

Those who staff ahead of the growth point to fruit of individual pastors/leaders. They are not as concerned with having a lean staff, because they believe their investment in staffing bears ministry fruit. Those who staff lean often point to the releasing of ministry to volunteers and the investment of resources in other areas.

(3) The ‘Leader/Manager’ Tension

Many churches are over-managed and under-led. They become slow-moving institutions designed for control rather than mission. Decision-making is cumbersome, empowerment is low, and movement is lethargic. They are unlikely to change because, after all, no one loves management as much as managers.

On the other end of the spectrum, churches are led by visionary and passionate teams with few systems in place to support the mission. And because they lack the systems and processes provided by capable managers, the church quickly becomes chaotic and unfocused. While we are much more attracted to leadership, management is just as necessary. The “down with management” and “up with leadership” thinking is unhelpful and unhealthy.

Ultimately, structure produces no life change. Nor does it produce health. Healthy churches have myriad staffing structures; same with unhealthy ones. But structure is important, because it can provide clarity. It can enable effective communication and help ensure ministry is executed well. Wise leadership teams will wrestle with these philosophical tensions beneath the structure and develop convictions that guide their staffing as they trust God with the growth he grants.

Read more from Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Mr. Steven Finkill — 10/24/12 11:28 am

I've certainly seen these tensions in play in many of the churches I've interacted with. I love that Eric describes the tensions without suggesting a one-approach-fits-all solution for them. The truth is that these tensions will always exist and it's the job of good leaders to navigate them well. And that's something that's done on an ongoing basis, not once-and-done.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

2 Simple Questions that Will Align Your Teams for Missional Ministry

A helpful way to shepherd your people with relationship to the mission of Jesus is to ask two simple questions:

1) Is the person clear about the vision of your church?

2) Is the person wanting to make a contribution? 

Imagine that you could answer these questions with a yes or no. If so, you can locate everyone on the “key” below.

WM2questions

Can you picture people in your church who are…

  • Crew
  • Passengers 
  • Stowaways
  • Pirates

The are key questions that arise from this simple classification. Remember good shepherds know their sheep and know how to guide each one based on their unique needs.

I will address some of these questions in follow-up posts:

1) Do you really know your crew? I am surprised at how many churches don’t have a clear view of their team. I will share how Mac Lake and I help churches develop a clear “team portrait” during our leadership pipeline coaching intensives.

2) How do you invite stowaways to become passengers? Many pastors are far enough removed from the mindset of the insecure unchurched person that they can miss some basic steps and skills to help others see and appreciate the mission of the church.

3) How do you recruit passengers to be crew? There are six “recruiting windows” that a leader must look through int he process of developments. In this post I will unpack I tool that I have used for years but have never published.

4) How do you either convert pirates to crew of get them off the ship?  This question is a biggie, and requires a separate post to provide a few thoughts. But, there is a way to do this with the wisdom and grace of a master-shepherd.

As a preparation for the rest of the series, I would encourage you to write down a few people you know in each part of the grid. Also, if you had to make a stab at the overall percentages in your congregation, what would you say? Go ahead and draw a grid with actual percentages in it.

By the way, the visual above is taken from the Church Unique Visual Summary. Download it for free by clicking here.

Read more from Will here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Thriving Ministries Do Something Different Tomorrow than They Did Yesterday

Why is it so hard for organizations to understand what Tony Hsieh did with customer service at Zappo’s? Instead of measuring the call center on calls answered per minute, he insisted that the operators be trained and rewarded to take their time and actually be human, to connect and make a difference instead of merely processing the incoming.

People hear this, see the billion dollars in goodwill that was created, nod their heads and then go back to running an efficient call center. Why?

In the industrial era, the job of the chief operating officer revolved around two related functions:

  • Decrease costs
  • Increase productivity

The company knew what needed to be done, and operations was responsible for doing it. Cutting costs, increasing reliability of delivery, getting more done with less–From Taylor on, the job was pretty clear.

In the post-industrial age, when thriving organizations do something different tomorrow than they did yesterday, when the output is connection as much as stuff, the objectives are very different. In today’s environment, the related functions are:

  • Increase alignment
  • Decrease fear

Alignment to the mission, to the culture, to what we do around here–this is critical, because in changing times, we can’t rely on a static hierarchy to manage people. We have to lead them instead, we have to put decision making power as ‘low’ (not a good word, but it’s left over from the industrial model) in the organization as possible.

As the armed forces have discovered, it’s the enlisted man in the village that wins battles (and hearts and minds) now, not the general with his maps and charts. Giving your people the ability to make decisions and connections is impossible in a command and control environment.

And a decrease in fear, because this is the reason that we’re stuck, that we fail, that our best work is left unshipped. Your team might know what to do, might have an even better plan than the one on the table, but our innate fear of shipping shuts all of that down.

So we go to meetings and wait for someone else to take responsibility. We seek deniability before we seek impact. The four-letter word that every modern organization must fear is: hide.

Our fear of being wrong, of opening up, of creating the vulnerability that leads to connection–we embrace that fear when we go to work, in fact, that’s the main reason people take a job instead of going out on their own. The fear is someone else’s job.

Except now it’s not.

Read more from Seth here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seth Godin

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Practicing Ministry Alignment in Your Church

Alignment is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. Alignment to the process means that all ministry departments submit and attach themselves to the same overarching process.

Alignment ensures the entire church body is moving in the same direction, and in the same manner.

When a church is fully aligned, all ministries are operating from the same ministry blueprint. The ministries not only embrace the simple process, but they are engaged in it. Each ministry department mirrors the process in that particular area.

Without alignment, the church can be a multitude of subministries. In this case each ministry has its own leaders who are only passionate about their specific ministry. They rarely identify with the entire church but are deeply committed to their own philosophy of ministry.

In a church that lacks alignment, everyone is competing for the same space, resources, volunteers, and time on the calendar.

In a church that lacks alignment, it does not feel like one body. It feels more like a building that houses a wide variety of ministries.

All churches naturally drift away from alignment.

Most of the times it is not addressed. The reasons vary. For one, it is painful to do so because committed people who have been around for a long time are passionate about their particular way of doing ministry. Sadly, they are more passionate for their area than for the church as a whole. Addressing misalignment also takes time and energy. It costs something to address it.

Unfortunately, it costs more not to address misalignment.

When misalignment on a car is not addressed, the results are damaging. Tires can blow out while driving. Damage to the wheels can occur. The same is true for a church. When misalignment is not addressed, there is damage.

Without alignment, complexity is certain.

Simple churches practice alignment. They intentionally fight the drift into misalignment. They insist that each staff member and each ministry embrace and execute their simple ministry process.

Read more from Eric here.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Sanyu Roberts — 08/29/15 7:51 pm

I am humbled, and for that reason would love to thank God for Eric Geiger, a minister in the present times where the church so much requires alignment. On the 28th of December 2014, God spoke to me concerning the issue of Alignment in church, self alignment for ministers and since then, I have carried the message to whoever cares. So then, I was curious to find out about which ministers of God have the same message and when I googled "which ministers have addressed the issue of alignment in church today?", I was able to come across Eric's message. I would so much love to connect with Vision Room even more. May the good lord bless you. Sanyu Roberts Director/Founder Rescue Foundation for Children at Risk(REFCAR)

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Telltale Signs of Being Out of Alignment

You’ve probably had the experience of driving a car that is out-of-alignment. At slow speeds, the wobble may be just bothersome. But when you get up to highway speeds or faster, that wobble becomes violent enough that you think your car is going to come apart. In most cases, it’s a trip to the auto repair shop and it’s smooth sailing.

Churches can be out of alignment, too.

When it comes to churches who are in a visioning process, alignment is the critical work that must be done early in the rollout of vision. You don’t just hit the gas pedal when you see where God wants you to drive. You must work on the front end before you put the pedal to the medal. Unfortunately, some leaders don’t have the patience.

But consider the alternative: a car out of alignment limits your top speed and may be dangerous. For the church, being out of alignment means severe limitations to missional effectiveness and efficiency.

How do you know if your church is out of alignment?

Watch to this brief video as Kotter International consultants Randy Ottinger and Dennis Goin discuss some telltale signs of organizational misalignment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See additional thoughts about organizational alignment here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.