Let’s start with a Question; think of a time in your ministry (or area of leadership) where a lack of structure and/or an unhealthy culture cost you from reaching your ministry goals. What was the cost of not executing your plan because of a lack of organizational structure? (i.e., time, relationships, resources…)
What a Successful Ministry Looks Like
Every organization, every ministry, if they want to survive and have growth, must have a clear mission, vision, and set of core values. What’s more, to execute the Mission and Vision, there needs to be a strategic plan and a healthy culture.
The revolving door
You probably have a church in your town that is a revolving door; people are coming in to visit while people are leaving (both visitors and regular attenders). People retention is a real problem. Visitors are not sticking around for any length of time. Losing people, both new attenders and regular members, might be an issue of no clear Mission, Vision, Core Values, or a stinky Church Culture.
Ignore this aspect of your ministry costs you and your organization.
Having An Organizational Structure is HARD WORK.
You must stay focused and keep your eye on the future. Yet, there is a whirlwind of issues and fires that the leadership must continually put out.
Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) – Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
How To Develop Structure in Your Ministry
To bring structure to your ministry or organization, you have to go OUTSIDE and bring it INSIDE. This might be a shift in thinking for some leaders, but it is very healthy and natural. We are born incomplete and imperfect. Therefore anything we truly want/need, we have to go outside to get it. Newborn children need structure and need to go outside to get it. They cry, and a lovely person comes and helps. It is no different for us as leaders. We cannot WILL structure into our organization. Instead, we need to go outside and learn, read, research, and watch what other healthy organizations are doing and then apply it to our own. Not everything that works for one successful ministry will work for yours. Nevertheless, there are fundamental principles that are transferable; find them and implement them.
As you bring new information into your organization, you also need to align every aspect of the organization to your mission, vision, and core values. Finances and budget, core ministries and programs, all relationship connecting points need to be aligned with and lead to a health advancement of the mission and vision.
Autonomy and Complexity
Driving a car is an incredibly complex task. I have to know and be highly familiar with countless vehicle systems to effectively take a road trip (of 5 min. or 500 miles). The same is true for an organization. The people of your ministry need to have the freedom to do what THEY do best (autonomy) and the challenge of increased complexity to scale your vision. Structure makes what is complex simple, and freedom allows for creativity, ownership, and individuality.
Everyday leaders are tasked with countless decisions that eventually suck energy, motivation, focus, and time from the overall mission and vision of the organization. The leader might need to ask for help (we have not because we ask not). Coaching is key to accomplishing our goals; just like on sports teams, a good coach will redirect and get the MOST out of their players. The same is true with an excellent executive coach. They are skilled in helping the leader stay focused and reach their goals.
Solve Problems IN Relationship
You can accomplish the mission and vision and lose the team. ALWAYS focus on your relationships. Take your problems to relationships. Many leaders get fired or lose essential volunteers because they refused to communicate with the people they lead. And when I say communicate, it has to go both ways; leadership is not a dictatorship. Communication is a flow of information where we listen first, learn from each other, and then lead with warmth and understanding.