Most pastors thrive on the ‘people part’ of leadership, not the systems of structures that go into helping a church run smoothly. When people are taking into account the curb appeal of a magnificent home, they rarely have the plumbing in mind. But if something is wrong with the plumbing…..
All too often, this means that systems and processes are ignored or marginalized – afterthoughts in a fast-paced church life. As a result, our structures typically emerge from default ways of operating rather than by intentional design.
But to a greater extent that we often imagine, structures determine behavior and behavior drives ministry.
In our work, we consult with several church denominations that are defined, in part, by the concept of “order”. Following the Protestant Reformation, several conflicts emerged in the church related to how much latitude a pastor could have, which liturgy was correct, and how to administer the church sacraments “correctly”.
The “order” established in the sixteenth century still prevails even in the twenty-first century in many cases.
The churches that are thriving today are those driven not by history, but by their core beliefs. By core beliefs, we mean more than just theology and doctrine. We use the term ‘core ideology’ which includes beliefs about how the church is supposed to be led, its purpose, and the way it interacts with its surrounding community.
Impactful churches are committed to a continual process of aligning their processes and structure to those core beliefs. Their “how” changes often, even as their “why” is mostly constant.
For churches of all types, yesterday’s structures are limiting today’s success. Put another way, yesterday’s solution has become today’s problem.
To create alignment between your core beliefs and values and your behavior-determining structures, you must constantly evaluate your processes to insure that you are preserving your code and updating your strategy. The status quo is a tenacious thing! Best to make sure you are always challenging it…especially when it comes to the “plumbing.”