Monday, June 14, 2010

Push/Pull Management

If I push and you pull, we have movement, things get done. If we both push, or both pull, we often create an immovable object. Church ministries should not be immovable objects.

However as soon as a local church hires staff they are bound to start having some issues with management. Management done well will enable the church to function properly; management done poorly will cripple the mission.

While there are many ways that pastors can be poor managers there are two keys to all successful management practices in the local church. The first is equity between authority and responsibility, and the second is servant leadership.

Authority and responsibility

When responsibility and authority are blurred, what needs to be accomplished may be clear but the “who” is uncertain. Responsibility indicates an obligation to perform or oversee a particular function but doesn’t necessarily transfer authority or power to accomplish the function. Authority is usually defined as the legitimate right to make decisions. The person with the authority has the most influence in accomplishing the objective.

Equity between authority and responsibility is accomplished when the appropriate influence or authority is delegated along with responsibility. Managers and employees including church employees will feel frustrated and handicapped if they don’t have the proper equity between the responsibility that they have been given, and the authority to carry it out.

When they get pushed, they have no pull and no authority to accomplish the task at hand. When they are granted too much authority, they often will pull too much of the rest of the organization out of balance. This balance is constantly in flux and the communication going up and down needs to be clear, constant and unambiguous.

Servant leadership

Secondly, at the heart of management within the church is servant leadership. Jesus exemplified servant leadership continually in ministry, from washing his disciples’ feet to dying for our sin. Jesus told us, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-27)

Servant leadership also balances the sometimes overbearing authority of a powerful board or Senior Pastor. Yes, boards and pastors also need to understand that they may have the authority, but authority must have equity with the responsibilities within the organization. Understanding that serving and honoring others before ourselves, helps keep that balance in check.

by Ken Behr

Reprint from ChurchExecutive May 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

People vs. Ministry Focused

Men's ministry, women's ministry, children's ministry, sport's ministry, creative arts ministry.... it seems like there are a never-ending smörgasbord of separate ministries, functions, opportunities and activities to pick from at your local church.

We can certainly understand why there are lots of options. People typically like options and will shop or attend organizations that offer options. Our supermarkets today offer many more options than the grocery stores of my youth. In the same way, our churches offer many more options today than they ever have in the past.

I'm all for having options. I also believe that the local church is the local and unique expression of the Body of Christ. The church was instituted to be a help to all people. It exists and is entirely about building up people, introducing them to Jesus Christ and helping them grow and develop into fully devoted followers. If we look to our local churches as the Body of Christ we are likely to see it as a gathering of people...some needy, some needed. When our focus is on the people, our churches thrive.

When we become too "ministry" focused, we have a tendency to think primarily of the activities, programs, events, budgets, structure and buildings. While many of these are likely necessary, they are best thought of as the means and not the ends; the structure and not the substance. It is in Christ that we have our being, not in ministry. Our purpose is focused on people...."so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:27-28)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Low hurdle = Small change

I think our churches often set the “bar too low”. If you aren’t’ familiar with that term, the idea is that when you set the bar too low, even if you accomplish the task, there is so little challenge presented that very little change actually takes place even when you are successful.

Our churches today have created lots of opportunities for people to improve themselves. Often these are what would be considered “self-improvement” opportunities. This is not something that is a characteristic solely of the mega-church as many if not most of our churches today have opportunities for “getting out of debt” or “using your spiritual gifts” or “becoming a better parent/spouse/leader” etc.

While these opportunities are likely welcome and popular (hence the reason they are offered), they do make it seem like becoming a Christian is about “small change” or become a better person little by little. Some of the self-improvement opportunities may be fine but we need to challenge people to become what God really desires...something like: to love justice, to do mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)

The bible doesn't talk about incremental changes but radical transformation. In Romans 12:2, Paul writes, ‘Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Jesus never expected small change….Jesus was into full commitment and radical transformation.

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