Got Clarity? (part 2)

Clarity_3In my last post – Got Clarity? (part 1), I talked about the need for clarity and gaining an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstance. Today I will address clarity of systems. Ministry systems can get bogged down due to lack of precision, so today I will focus on 3 key areas of ministry that truly need clarity.

You have a piece of important information you need to run by your superior before a monthly meeting. But it took longer than expected for you to complete. Now you find your supervisor is out of the office until after the meeting. So your project is on hold for a month until your whole team can communicate on this one item.

Sound familiar? In my 29 years of ministry, I’ve often seen poor communication systems slowing ministry progress. Solution: Intentionally formalize your communication strategy. Don’t rely on hallway conversations or last-minute emails to confirm important information. Set up a system to organize your inner-office communications. But everyone needs to participate, or it won’t work.

Decision Making
I knew of an Executive Pastor at a large church who resigned partially due to the fact that he didn’t know how decisions were made. This was the Executive Pastor!

In smaller churches, usually top leaders make all the important decisions. But as churches get larger, the circle of decision makers needs to expand as well. If not – if your Senior Pastor still makes all the decisions – the process gets bottle-necked and becomes painfully slow.

Decision making in a church setting can be complex. Who makes them? How are they made? Did the decision makers get sufficient information before making the decision? Did they discern wisely? Some in your congregation may not care much about these questions. But others will. The decision making process requires clarity.

So as a team, create clarity around your decisions. Come to an agreement about what types of decisions can be made by the leader alone, or by the leader with input from others. Determine which decisions can be made by a sub group, or a sub group with input. Or if any decisions require a majority vote, consensus, or total alignment. Each of these examples (as listed) will take more time than the previous one, but create more buy-in. Remember, not all of your people will want to be part of every decision, but many want to know who made the decision, and how it was made.

Lines of Authority
Again, in a smaller church, it’s pretty straight forward. B reports to A. But in a larger church, B, C, D, E & F all report to A. So, in a large church, you may need to set up a more complex authority structure. Perhaps B, C & D all have five direct reports reporting to each of them. And B, C & D all report to A.

And in a multi-site situation, it gets hairy. When you have several dozen or more staff people at multiple campuses, direct lines of authority can compete with indirect lines of influence. For several years I worked at a large, multi-site church. I was a Small Groups Pastor and directly reported to the Head Groups Pastor, as did the other Groups Pastors at the other campuses. But I also reported to the Campus Pastor as did other staff people at that campus. We all understood the structure. The Groups Team was my main team. The Campus Team was a secondary team. The Head Groups Pastor had direct authority. The Campus Pastor had indirect influence.

But then the matrix flipped. Suddenly my Campus Team was my main team, and the Small Groups Pastors became my secondary team. I know it gets complex and you can see the potential for confusion. One thing I know: hairy requires clarity. However you structure direct lines of authority and indirect lines of influence, make sure everyone knows what’s going on. Insist on clarity.

These are just a few of the systems at your church that require clarity. But they are perhaps some of the most important. So go after clarity like a monkey on a cupcake. It’s worth it. Your staff will notice it. Your people will appreciate it. And your church will function better for it.