Churches, just like plants and animals, have life-cycles. And just like organisms, churches can find themselves in an unhealthy place that limits their growth. After working with hundreds of churches, the same six lids kept emerging and we noticed that seldom does an individual congregation wrestle with just a single lid. The more lids a church is facing, the more difficult it is to get healthy and multiply.
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The staffing applies not only to the Lead Pastor, but to the others on staff as well, both volunteer and paid. Most staffs are built by adding one staff member at a time with little or no thought of developing a strategic long-term staffing plan. As Jim Collins asserts in Good to Great, to be impactful, a congregation needs to get the right people “on the bus” and get them “in the right seats”. Our experience has shown that 10-15% of congregations accomplish this without coaching, while the remaining congregations need assessments, coaching, etc. to maximize their staffing impact and effectiveness.
Who does what and when? What are the responsibilities, authorities, boundaries and accountabilities of the staff, leadership board, and the body? Too often congregational structure evolves as does their staffing, without a well thought-out strategy. The goal is to simplify and clarify the structure using a governance model (Carver) that has been adapted to the congregation (Kaiser) to free laity to minister as they are gifted and positioned in the body .
Strategies must be contextualized for every local congregation’s community, history, and culture. Strategies detail how the mission, vision and values of a congregation are fulfilled. Strategies help clarify how the variety of ministries in the congregation work to fulfill the mission and vision of the church. Strategies bring alignment to ministries and allow them to run their course naturally. Examples would be: How are we going to reach our community? How are we to build disciples? How are we going to attract young families? How do we produce leaders? How are we going to multiply? Etc.
Systems are the inner workings of the strategies. If a congregation is not fulfilling its mission or vision, then one may wonder: Is it because of a wrong strategy (approach), or are there systems lacking which cause the transformation to be shorted? Systems organize and extend strategies. It is systems that create synergy because they continue to efficiently produce fruit with minimal effort within the strategies. Examples would be: financial and budgetary processes, new member follow up, congregational care, volunteer recruitment and training, managing people flow, etc.
5. Spiritual State
All congregations have a spiritual state, which impacts the health, either positively or negatively. Often times after a trauma in the life of the congregation (e.g. moral failure of a leader) the congregation can develop an unhealthy spiritual state. Was there a “sin” that was accepted as normal such as: gossip, not trusting the leadership, not trusting each other, independence (rather than interdependence), disrespect for the Scriptures, lack of confession, repentance, change of behavior or lack of Christ as Lord? Regardless of its inception, dysfunction must be addressed and corrected.
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Finally, space asks if the congregation is using their facility (or lack thereof) is consistent with their mission and vision. Does the space utilized by the congregation encourage health and growth in the areas needed? Does the amount, location, and/or condition of the space help or hinder the strategies of the congregation?
Is your church plateaued or declining? Which of these lids are you facing? Which have you addressed already?