It’s not very sexy to say, but few things matter as much as organizational structure. The way we live—literally determined by a sequence of choices born out of belief—determines everything.
This is very true of the church as well. Whether good or bad, the structure of our churches exactly matches what we really believe. There’s no way around it.
As we continue to til the soil of understanding about how the church does its work, we have looked at this important definition:
A. A business is an organization involved in the trade of goods and/or services to customers in exchange for money.
B. The efficient and effective operation of business is accomplished through the management of financial, capital, and human resources.
This is the second part in my series of posts on the Business of Church. In this post, I continue to till the soil of our understanding—to dig up the roots underneath our thinking and our philosophies of ministry. We will plant some seeds, but for now we are still plowing.
In part one, I question our thinking process itself. Why do we think the way we do? The scientific method lurking behind our western processing of facts pushes us to drive towards efficiency with the unintended consequence of dehumanization. That represents one row in this field.
Part two continues this questioning, but in a different row of the field.
Call it a personality deficiency if you must, but I have always distrusted hierarchies.
It is not in my nature to accept authority. (Isn’t that true for all of us?) Particularly, titled authority that lacks the requisite gifting and intelligence (but more importantly, or less harshly perhaps, the needed capacity to love).
I freely admit this distrust is part of the filter I bring to the topic of church and the way we do our work as the church (and, incidentally, the hermeneutic I weave into the book of Acts and the Epistles).
It is this innate skepticism towards those in charge that is part of the reason I find myself rejecting the leadership movement of the last decade.
(Did it start with John Maxwell* in the 90s? I don’t know for sure. I just know I don’t like it, and it does not appeal to the deeper longings of my soul.)
Additionally, my distrust comes from my personal experience. I have experienced the relentless crush of the ministry machine masquerading as the church. And yes, usually there is a “leader” at the helm cracking the whip for more, bigger, better.
(The fact that the more, bigger, better is tightly connected to their personal goals and finances should not be ignored.)
There has to be a better way to carry out our mission.
I have come to realize, almost every task I do as a Church Technical Leader is a project – from a video shoot to a room remodel to implementing a new initiative. Good project management is like a recipe. If you start with great ingredients and combine them in the proper way, you will get good results.
The basic ingredients of successful projects are three-fold:
effective project management
well executed individual contributions
This post is going to be more about tasks – the doing part of the job. Just knowing you are responsible for the outcome is not where the secret lies. The secret, if there is one, is in the ingredients. And, for all my church techies out there, these principles mirror the way God leads, and that’s how you know you are getting it right.
Most of us techies are task oriented people. We probably are, or have the potential to be, productive managers. This is something that is a great benefit to the churches where we serve. We are known as people who get stuff done. If we took a strength finder test, achievement would be in our top five. This is how many of us are wired (If you’re not wired that way, that’s OK. Maximizing your gifts, and helping others flourish in their’s, is the path to success, after all).
Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Most tech people I know are detailed planners. We want all the details (all!) ASAP. Perhaps even before that. Our goal is to help the ministry be successful and to see people’s lives changed by the power of the Gospel. Our part is to make sure all of the technical ducks are in a row so nothing blocks what God is doing. There are always curve balls. We know and accept that.
By planning all of the details that we can control ahead of time, we give adequate time and space for the curveballs that come up right before or during the service/event/project.
That seems so obvious it shouldn’t be stated. Therein lies the problem. It is not obvious to some of our teammates.
I have often been part of a project that started to go off the rails because of lack of planning and communication (I like to say, “the wheels fell off the bus” as an analogy for failure that leads to more failure).
I see two extremes for handling this potential minefield: we can take charge or lay low.
The answer probably lies somewhere between the two extremes, and depending on the situation, leans one way or the other.