A catalyst causes change or action. I am suggesting that there are some things that can trigger a change in a local church whereby it goes back to or maybe for the first time tries strategic planning. For each catalyst, I am also suggesting some assessment questions to help you see if this specific one is at work in your midst.
Catalyst #4: You have outgrown your infrastructure leading to organizational schizophrenia.
One essential understanding of the Church is this: larger churches are not the same as smaller churches with more people, any more than Wal-Mart is the same as a “mom and pop” grocery story with more square feet and customers. Greater sizes demand many more things than the “mom and pop” small church: more space, more options, more systems, more training, more role definition, more leadership development, more attention to the difference between governance and staff management.
Some of the leadership team will realize this before others do and that can easily lead to a form of organizational schizophrenia. While some will cling to a small church mentality longing for the “good old days”, others will see a path forward and try to assert it. One dimension of the path forward is to be staff-led, but that is not the whole answer because staff need to delegate, equip, and be leaders of leaders (Eph. 4).
In the midst of this complexity, there is a need to make complexity invisible and achieve clarity. Somehow, we need to arrive at one preferable future, more effective communication, and a systematic-organic way of doing things. This leads many into a focus on planning. For example, Larry Osborne once said, “We plan every year because we are a different church every year”. Here is a short list of how you may be a different church now than you were before. Each one requires planning attention to avoid slipping into and perpetuating schizophrenia:
· The Sr. Pastor can’t keep up with all of the expectations the church puts on him: governance, preaching, ceremonial duties, overseeing a growing staff, pastoral care and counseling.
· The board is sensing that the church has so many ministries that they no longer know how to adequately manage ministry decisions.
· We are maxing out the capacity of space in our worship service (or two services or three…)
· The church staff complains that 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work and that they have no margin to do the last thing you asked them to do
· You are getting feedback that people don’t know how to get involved in the church
· Your back door is as big or bigger than your front door
· You are getting feedback that the care needs of the church are not being met by the ministries of the church.
· The administrative staff is struggling with several different church databases none of which “talk” to each other.
· The church has grown in attendance, but financial giving has stayed flat since the end of the Great Recession.
1. Do we have organizational schizophrenia where there is more than one preferable future? If so, how will we transition into a one-size-mentality?
2. If we could start over, what would be different about the role of staff members, the role of the board, the role of lay leaders, and the role of other ministry participants?
3. On the way to becoming staff-led, did we leave or are we leaving Ephesians 4 behind?
4. Is our church known for how people are cared for or are many care needs falling through the cracks? Is that because of the way we are organized, the way that we do things?
5. Are we regularly frustrated because our giving base has not grown with our size?