5 Calculated Risks to Build a Healthy Structure

Let’s face it. The way we manage churches usually makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to the outside world. And before we quickly write off this statement with a “well, that’s because churches shouldn’t be businesses,” consider this.

You can have a structure that works, but isn’t biblical. That’s bad. Some examples?

  • Having powerful marketing machinery but no discipleship process.
  • Firing people over inefficiency with no concern for their soul or their family.
  • Prioritizing results over relationships and numerical growth over spiritual health.

You can also have a structure that seems biblical, but doesn’t really work. For example…

  • Worship that honors traditional liturgical approaches but makes no sense to outsiders.
  • Giving everyone an equal voice in every decision the church makes.
  • Keeping leaders under control so they don’t do anything that scares anyone.

I spent a lot of years serving wonderful people in wonderful church families that had a poor and unhealthy structure. And I was partly to blame for not getting to the root of our issues, or knowing what to do and not having the guts to make people uncomfortable enough to change the status quo.

Now that I’m serving a newer church plant (we’re currently just over four years old), things work very differently because we’ve been able to organize and manage our growth in ways that are both biblical and effective. What surprises many people who come from traditional churches is that we don’t have any committees or business meetings. The congregation has never voted on anything, and won’t until we get ready to buy land, build a building, or hire a new Lead Pastor.

You may assume that we have, then, either a dictatorship or all out chaos. But to clarify, we also don’t have power struggles, fights over the death of traditions, or clamoring for positions of influence. I wrote about a similar subject recently and someone on Facebook asked a great question.

How do you get things done without voting on anything?

I’d like to answer the question, but I’d also like to expand on it. The problem isn’t voting, or not voting, necessarily, even though I did write about 19 reasons Baptist should just stop voting on stuff. The problem is a faulty ecclesiology that assumes a democratic form of church polity – an Americanized, or at least westernized take on the New Testament. And it’s also a psychological problem. We fear losing our share of the control as a group grows, so we create structures to keep it small.

So… how do you create and sustain a biblical, healthy church structure that enables a church to move forward without the red tape of committees and business meetings? Here are at least five things I’ve seen working well.

1. Create a healthy, unified culture.

Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” True. Here’s what that means for pastors and church leaders…

You can attend conferences, read books, write vision statements, preach missional messages, offer training, and pass along all the rules and policies your heart desires. But you won’t see forward momentum until you create a healthy culture.

And how do you create a healthy, positive, visionary, forward-leaning culture within a congregation? You write out your core values, make sure they’re framed positively with a bent toward action, boil them down to six or eight phrases, and then repeat those phrases over and over to your staff, your leaders, your church, and your community.

In other words, as the leader, you model a this is who we are set of core values as you lead, preach, relate to people, and make decisions.

Most of the long term attenders at Grace Hills can tell you something like…

We’re a church that welcomes everybody, that’s heavy on grace and light on judgment, where everybody matters, everybody belongs, and everybody has a part to play. We’re flexible. There are no sacred cows. This is who we are.

Why is that? Because we’ve based our core values in the content of the New Testament, we’ve articulated them and repeated them, and we’ve lived by them consistently.

2. Fight FOR people rather than fighting against them.

You’re the leader, right? So don’t be a baby, or a whiner, or a fit-thrower, or a conniver, or a manipulator. Be mature. Be positive. Be visionary. Paint a bright picture of the future. Value and listen to everyone. And refuse to get into a firefight.

Too many Pastors have chosen hills to die on that weren’t worth people getting hurt over in the first place. Pick your battles, and try to do everything you can not to let it become a battle. Do everything you can to stave off walk-out’s, uprisings, splits, and schisms.

Obviously, sometimes this is beyond your control as the leader. Sometimes you inherit a fight. But as much as is in your power, be intentional about what culture you’re not going to create. It’s important to remind people of the culture you’re trying to create with both a this is who we ARE as well as a this is NOT who we are… now put down the rocks...

3. Teach leadership, and set leaders free.

The Bible has a TON to say about good leadership. It’s filled with stories of great leaders, mediocre leaders, and terrible leaders. There are also proverbs and principles sprinkled throughout the wisdom literature of Scripture. And then there is the amazingly effective leadership approach of Jesus, and later, his well-trained and Spirit-filled apostles.

So look to the Bible as the basis for structuring your church. Point out Acts 20, 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5 and other passages that spell out the leadership responsibilities of Pastors (which is twofold: to lead and to feed the flock). Teach what Ephesians 4 has to say about Pastors being equippers of leaders who carry out the ministry as a healthy body. Remind the congregation of Acts 6, where great leaders were hand-selected to take ownership of major areas of ministry.

At some point, you may need to re-write your church’s by-laws and articulate publicly and in writing your intended leadership structure. (Here’s a link to a page on Grace Hills’ site where you can find our versions of these documents, and more.)

4. Make decisions at the lowest possible level.

Every church body needs to have a clear understanding that leaders are empowered to lead with confidence, not to constantly beg for permission. The ability to make decisions should be handed down to the lowest possible level. If you’re unfamiliar with this organizational style, let me illustrate with some examples…

  • The youth leader should be able to plan an event and order pizza without having to call a meeting with a youth committee.
  • The maintenance leader should be able to replace or upgrade broken equipment without waiting for next month’s business meeting and an hour long church-wide discussion and vote.
  • The preschool leader should be able to make a preschool classroom look amazing to preschoolers without the feedback or approval of a committee of people who don’t even volunteer to help lead the preschool class.

I love it when leaders and volunteers ask me the question, as the Lead Pastor, what do you want us to do next? Most of the time the next words that come out of my mouth are what do YOU think we should do next? See how empowering that is? To grant freedom? To invite people to create, to dream, to have a vision and pursue it is one of the greatest blessings you can have as a Pastor.

So cut the red tape. Stop making people feel afraid that they’re going to be scrutinized, shut down, cut off, or removed from leadership over preferences and issues that should never have been discussed by a bunch of people with no vested interest in the particular issue at hand.

5. Be transparent and protect the integrity of the organization.

If we stop having business meetings and votes and committees, won’t people get suspicious and fearful? Possibly. And that’s why you need to work extra hard to build trust, which is the currency of all effective leadership.

The more often you make good, wise, biblically-informed, Spirit-filled, and elder-blessed decisions that produce fruit and positive results, the more people will trust and follow your leadership. And the more transparent you can be about how and why you’re leading the way you are, the better.

The only reason to keep people in the dark about why and how you’re leading is to keep them distant and prevent them from being a threat. We do that, usually, because we’re insecure. Pastors who get labeled as “dictators” usually aren’t arrogant. They’re insecure. And in their insecurity, they refuse to be transparent, to share leadership, to give away ministry, to be held accountable for their personal and spiritual health.

At Grace Hills, we publish an annual report showing how much money we spent, and what areas we spent it on. Further, all of our bookkeeping is outsourced to MAG Bookkeeping so that as much as possible is out of our hands and double-audited. And we invite volunteers to lead, leaders to get close, and teams of people to do ministry together in the trenches.

Let’s be honest. We invented the idea of voting long after the early New Testament era of the church. We decided “deacons” should be a board of decision-makers and pastor-evaluators pretty recently in church history. And business meetings – one of the church’s most awful of human inventions – are pretty much the last place where disciples are going to be made.

Good leaders, leading good people, can remain stagnant and die on the vine all because of a poor, unbiblical, and ineffective structure. If your church has been plateaued or declining for long, there is a high likelihood this is a big part of the problem.

To lead forward, you’re going to have to take some risks. Are you up to it?

> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

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

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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
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Seth Godin with an Anatomy Lesson for Your Church

Seth Godin delivers a simple, but profound anatomy lesson for your church:

Most organizations are built around three anatomical concepts: Bone, muscle and soft tissue.

The bones are the conceptual skeleton, the people who stand for something, who have been around, have a mission and don’t bend easily, even if there’s an apparently justifiable no-one-is-watching shortcut at hand. “We don’t do things that way around here.”

The muscles are able to do the heavy lifting. They are the top salespeople, the designers with useful and significant output, the performers who can be counted on to do more than their share.

And the soft tissue brings bulk, it protects the muscles and the bones. The soft tissue can fill a room, handle details, add heft in many ways. It can bring protection and cohesion, and sometimes turn into muscle.

When a bone breaks, we notice it. When those that make up the organization’s skeleton leave, or lose their nerve or their verve, the entire organizations gasps, and often rushes to fix the problem.

Muscles are easily measured, and we’ve built countless organizational tools to find and reward our best producers.

But soft tissue… soft tissue is easy to add to the team, but time-consuming to remove. Soft tissue bogs down the rest of the organization, what with all those meetings, the slowdown of time to market, the difficulty in turning on a dime.

An organization that lets itself be overwhelmed by the small but insistent demands of too much soft tissue gets happy, then it gets fat, then it dies.

Have you had an “organizational checkup” lately? How is your “anatomy”?

Read more from Seth 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
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes with Growth

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Casey Cariker — 08/08/13 9:04 pm

Thanks

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Critical Systems for a Healthy Culture

There are many systems in place at churches of every size, location & style; most are borne out of necessity, but some are adopted because they’ve been seen at work in other churches. While the list of church systems could be exhaustive, I’ve come to define them into three distinct but important categories. There are, of course, many, many sub-systems within these broad categories, but I believe each of the three to be vitally important to creating, maintaining and exporting a healthy culture.

The diagram below illustrates the following:

Right Fit + Right Systems = Consistent Results

Right Fit + Wrong Systems = Frustration

Wrong Fit + Right Systems = Inconsistent Results

Wrong Fit + Wrong Systems = Poor Outcomes

Systems Quadrant

I believe that it’s possible to “right fit” every person. As my good friend pastor Brad Stahl (Volunteer pastor at Gateway Church) says, “Everybody’s a ’10′ somewhere!”. The right fit with the right systems is always the goal.

Relational Responsibility System

Once you get past about 50 people that you can know well, it’s hard to keep up with the rest of the people in your sphere of influence. So, in essence, any local church with more than 50 people is, for all intents and purposes, a mega church (which is commonly associated with being “too big” for many). Today, many churches have adopted some form of an electronic database for keeping track of attendees (some still track membership – but if they’re a member, aren’t they attending & serving? Why count membership?). The practicality of an electronic ‘Rolodex’ is helpful, but ultimately insufficient.

The point of keeping up with ‘people information’ is to help facilitate relationships, so any tool that merely acts as a glorified Rolodex is only marginally useful.

Of course many companies have realized this, thus the plethora of church management software offerings for churches of every size. Every one of these software solutions has built their tool from their own bias and understanding of how they would ‘do ministry’. As a result, while many offer similar features, the reality is that the way the software works is ultimately geared towards a way of doing ministry. If you go this route (and I recommend that you do), make sure the software you choose values what you value and functions along how your church does day-to-day ministry. A quick note: there’s not a single platform that’s doing everything really well, so you’re simply choosing the one that fits >80% of your relational responsibility needs.

Stewardship System

Church finances are obviously important, but I’ve come to understand that finances are only one part of being a good steward. As such, I believe that stewardship encompasses a different mindset than is typically found in the conventional church financial office.

Being a steward is defined as a responsibility to take care of something belonging to someone else.

From shepherding people well to wisely managing finances to designating resources effectively, a stewardship system involves a holistic approach. The leader overseeing this system is both generous and wise and manages this system (and sub-systems) through the filter of being a good steward more than ensuring Account Receivable and Accounts Payable are up-to-date. Church leaders are entrusted with much, so much is required. Luke 12:48 says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The fundamental shift of leading from this paradigm changes things up.

Communications System

It’s interesting to me how much emphasis the vast majority of churches place on having an event, promotion or need shared from the platform on weekends. Announcements have their place, but the truth is that by the time something makes it to the announcements from the senior pastor (which should be very few things indeed), the audience should have had the opportunity to hear about it from at least five other methods. I don’t think enough churches are thinking about their external communications nearly enough. Email (mass group emails as well as demographic-specific campaigns), print, website, social media, word-of-mouth, advertising, groups promotion and the like are all avenues that should be strategically coordinated (editorial calendars, anyone?).

Great communication ensures the right message is getting to the right people in the right way at the right time.

In addition to external communications, churches need to also put the same effort into internal communications. Frankly, in even smaller churches, the proverbial left hand doesn’t often know what the right hand is doing. As a result, people and project details often fall through the cracks.

In both cases, a unified communications system is less about a specific tool(s) and more about defining a healthy way of communicating effectively.

Owning these three systems is critical to churches. Is your church leveraging these three important systems? Share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter: @anthonycoppedge

Read more from Anthony here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Coppedge

Anthony Coppedge

On the team at Auxano. Lover of Jesus, my wife and my kids. Unapologetic Apple fanboy. Slightly addicted to MindMaps, but in a good way.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Developing Leadership

Spiritual leaders are the carriers of God ’s DNA in the church, the shapers of a church ’s vision and core values. They are influencers of what the church embodies. The key to radical discipleship is the development of trainer – coaches that carry the DNA to the edges of the movement.

—   Michael Slaughter

The first of the five circles in the Integration Model is leadership. How will you use vision to recruit leaders, develop leaders, structure people, and divide your attention among the right leaders? Take leaders out of the equation and the visionary is a daydreamer.

The implications of these questions are so huge for leadership development, we want the Vision Room content to focus beyond the good leadership books, principles and “Maxwellisms” out there. All too often the topic of leadership development is disconnected from your church’s unique vision.

As a starting point with leadership development, I encourage pastors to consider three basic principles:

First, when it comes to hiring, get people who get the vision.

Are you doing everything you can up front to ensure the chemistry and culture fit with potential staff?

Second, let strategy determine structure.

Once you have the strategy articulated and pictured, you must go back and revise your organizational structure.  If you don’t strategy becomes impotent. Why? Because no leader wakes up with a specific responsibility (and accountability) connected to your church’s strategy component.

Third, lead leaders.

Every church I know has people who do ministry. Some of the better churches I know grow leaders. But the best churches actually lead leaders; that is, they have a leadership pipeline that is continually filling and developing people.  They have a leadership culture.

May God bless your leadership development efforts.

 

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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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Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Simple Church Revolution

Simple is in.

Complexity is out. Out of style at least.

Ironically people are hungry for simple because the world has become much more complex. The amount of information accessible to us is continually increasing. The ability to interact with the entire world is now possible. Technology is consistently advancing at a rapid pace.

The result is a complicated world with complex and busy lives. And, in the midst of complexity, people want to find simplicity. They long for it, seek it, pay for it, even dream of it. Simple is in. Simple works. People respond to simple.

The simple revolution is well underway.

Marketing and advertising executives are using simple slogans and advertising pieces. You know that because you have seen it. That is not all though. The revolution goes deeper than that. They are marketing their products as solutions for our complicated lives. The message is: “This product will simplify your life.” They know people respond to simple.

In a notable marketing book, Simplicity Marketing, Steven Cristol and Peter Sealey teach executives to position their products to promise customers a more simple life. They argue that an effective brand will reduce the stress of the customer. The value that many products offer is clutter reduction.

Take for example the marketing of the South Beach Diet. The diet market is cluttered. New diets and weight-loss strategies come along all the time, but South Beach promised the potential dieter something other plans failed to deliver: simplicity and less stress.

The founder and author of the South Beach Diet movement explained the essence of his diet this way: “What started as a part-time foray into the world of nutrition has led me to devise a simple, medically-sound diet that works, without stress, for a large percentage of those who try it.” Did you see it? Simple and stress-free. Besides a way for favorite desserts to actually be sugar-free, what more could dieters ask for?

OK. By now you get the point. Simple is in. Simple works. People respond to simple.

Growing and vibrant churches know this.

In our extensive research of more than four hundred evangelical churches for the book Simple Church, we discovered the simple church revolution. We compared growing and vibrant churches to nongrowing and struggling churches. Church leaders from both groups completed the same survey, which was designed to measure how simple their church discipleship process was.

We anticipated that the vibrant churches would score higher. We anticipated that there would be a relationship between a simple process and church vitality, but the results were greater than we imagined. Our statistical consultant told us that we found something big.

There will be more discussion of the study in the weeks to come here on the site, but here is the elevator conversation: The vibrant churches were much more simple than the comparison churches. The difference was so big that the probability of the results occurring with one church by chance is less than one in a thousand. Statistical people call this a relationship at the .001 level.

When a researcher finds a relationship at the .05 level, he calls his friends and brags. He knows he has found something worthwhile. When a researcher finds something at the .01 level, he calls his publicist and prepares to write. Finding something at the .001 level does not happen often. It’s a big deal. If you’re a stats person, it is “highly significant.”

The significance is that, in general, simple churches are growing and vibrant. Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the kingdom. Church leaders who have designed a simple biblical process to make disciples are effectively advancing the movement of the gospel. Simple churches are making a big impact.

Conversely, complex churches are struggling and anemic. Churches without a process or with a complicated process for making disciples are floundering. As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. Our research shows that these churches are not growing. Unfortunately, the overprogrammed and busy church is the norm. The simple church is the exception, yet our research shows that should not be the case.

The simple church revolution has begun.

But most churches are too busy to notice.

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!

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Management is (Still) Not Leadership

A few weeks ago, the BBC asked me to come in for a radio interview. They told me they wanted to talk about effective leadership — China had just elevated Xi Jinping to the role of Communist Party leader; General David Petraeus had stepped down from his post at the CIA a few days earlier; the BBC itself was wading through a leadership scandal of its own — but the conversation quickly veered, as these things often do, into a discussion about how individuals can keep large, complex, unwieldy organizations operating reliably and efficiently.

That’s not leadership, I explained. That’s management — and the two are radically different.

In more than four decades of studying businesses and consulting to organizations on how to implement new strategies, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use the words “leadership” and “management” synonymously, and it drives me crazy every time.

The interview reminded me once again that the confusion around these two terms is massive, and that misunderstanding gets in the way of any reasonable discussion about how to build a company, position it for success and win in the twenty-first century. The mistakes people make on the issue are threefold:

  • Mistake #1: People use the terms “management” and “leadership” interchangeably. This shows that they don’t see the crucial difference between the two and the vital functions that each role plays.
  • Mistake #2: People use the term “leadership” to refer to the people at the very top of hierarchies. They then call the people in the layers below them in the organization “management.” And then all the rest are workers, specialists, and individual contributors. This is also a mistake and very misleading.
  • Mistake #3: People often think of “leadership” in terms of personality characteristics, usually as something they call charisma. Since few people have great charisma, this leads logically to the conclusion that few people can provide leadership, which gets us into increasing trouble.

In fact, management is a set of well-known processes, like planning, budgeting, structuring jobs, staffing jobs, measuring performance and problem-solving, which help an organization to predictably do what it knows how to do well. Management helps you to produce products and services as you have promised, of consistent quality, on budget, day after day, week after week. In organizations of any size and complexity, this is an enormously difficult task. We constantly underestimate how complex this task really is, especially if we are not in senior management jobs. So, management is crucial — but it’s not leadership.

Leadership is entirely different. It is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

There are very, very few organizations today that have sufficient leadership. Until we face this issue, understanding exactly what the problem is, we’re never going to solve it. Unless we recognize that we’re not talking about management when we speak of leadership, all we will try to do when we do need more leadership is work harder to manage. At a certain point, we end up with over-managed and under-led organizations, which are increasingly vulnerable in a fast-moving world.

Read the full story here.

Read more from John here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Kotter

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Four Disciplines of Getting Things Done, Part 1

A great strategy without execution is merely wishful thinking, a dream on paper that is never translated into real life. I have found that many leaders, organizations, and ministries struggle with execution, with actually getting things done.

The book Four Disciplines of Execution has provided a sticky mental framework for me on leading teams to execute. Over the next couple of posts, I will share “four disciplines of getting things done.” I have seen these four disciplines bear fruit with ministries and teams I have led and am leading.

1. FOCUS ON THE WILDLY IMPORTANT

Many churches and organizations run after too many goals or initiatives at a time. Thus, they never realize the power of focus, of leveraging resources and people toward an overarching and important goal. Instead of having a list of 10 things, have a list of 1-2 really important goals. Run after these hard for a season. And once they are accomplished, effectively embed them into the regular and essential ebb and flow of work. Some questions emerge:

But how do you focus on 1-2 important goals when there are other important aspects of the ministry or organization?

Just because something is not the priority for a season does not mean it is not important. The regular, ongoing aspects of the work/ministry are absolutely essential. But raising an initiative to the top for a season of sustained focus will always rally a team around a clear direction.

One possible way to think of the wildly important is to imagine the current ebb and flow as 80 percent of each team member’s work. The additional 20 percent of energy is allocated toward the wildly important goal. Once the goal is complete, it is moved into the ongoing ministry/work and you have a healthier and more effective “new normal.”

From a church perspective, the wildly important goal may be an initiative: launch a campus, start a church, serve our city over the next several months, launch X number of new groups. Or it could be a value you are seeking to further drive into the culture: hospitality, worship, etc.

Why don’t more leaders do this?

Admittedly, it is risky. It feels much safer to hedge your bets and focus on a plethora of things. When you focus on a few at a time, you feel like you put your leadership on the line for everyone to see. The reality is that focusing on everything is more risky. Because few great things are accomplished when everything is the priority. When everything is the priority, nothing really is.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

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!

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Four Disciplines of Getting Things Done, Part 2

Winston Churchill famously said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Execution is the hard work between designing the strategy and the results, the impact. Here are some additional thoughts on the four disciplines of getting things done (read Part 1 here.)

2. SET LEAD MEASURES

After the team has agreed to an overarching important goal for a season, help the team set lead measures that will, by God’s grace, result in the fulfillment of the goal.

To understand lead measures, you must understand the difference between lead measures and lag measures. Lead measures are predictive. Lag measures are outcome based. For example, imagine you set a goal to lose 15 pounds by June 1. The 15 pounds is the clear lag measure. You know the goal and the due date. But to execute well, you need lead measures. It may be your caloric intake, the number of times you hit the gym each week, and the number of cheat meals you are allowed. If you don’t have the right lead measures, you will not hit the lag measure.

John Calipari, the coach of the UK Wildcats, demonstrated a wise understanding of lead measures as he led his team to the NCAA championship last season. If you watched the pre-game footage, you noticed him giving clear lead measures to his players in terms of the number of turnovers to force, rebounds to grab, and foul trouble to avoid. He understood that he needed to do more than tell his players to win; he needed to give them clear measures that would result in a win.

In summary, don’t just set and declare an important goal. Set lead measures underneath that goal. Otherwise team members will know the “what” but they won’t understand the “how”  and their role.

3. KEEP THE GOAL (AND THE SCORE) IN FRONT OF THE TEAM

When you set a clear goal for your team, you must identify what success will be. How will you know the goal is accomplished? Keep “the win” in front of the team in a compelling way. Surface it in meetings, discuss as a team, and ensure it is before the group at all times.

4. CREATE A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY

In a culture of execution, there is also a culture of accountability. When people on the team set lead measures underneath the overarching goal, there must be freedom to discuss the progress, trust to quickly put problems on the table, and courage to confront issues. A culture of accountability does not mean people are knighted to be jerks. But it does mean the team understands the expectations and is willing to hold each other accountable, without the leader needing to be the only one providing the accountability. If the leader is the only one providing accountability, there is a leader of accountability, not a culture of accountability.

Read Part 1 here.

Read more from Eric here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
The general principles here might not apply to all social media situations. The illustration used in the post was Twitter, not a public Facebook page. In that case I think (I am not an expert on Facebook at all) that negative comments should be curated and deleted.
 
— VRcurator
 
Thanks Will. What about a CHURCH Facebook page (not "Will Mancini" but "Main Street Church" Facebook page). If someone posts on my church Facebook page, "This church stinks because of they don't like children!" ... at that point I'm thinking the church probably ought to post ONE well-thought-through response - not ignore it. Is that right in your eyes, Will?
 
— Adam
 
Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!
 
— Dennis
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.