This week we are covering Leadership Pipeline, a concept and framework for churches to develop leaders at every level of ministry. Over the course of the week we will share a blog post and a podcast each day. We are also offering a free e-booklet called Developing Your Leadership Pipeline which can be downloaded here. If what you read and hear interests you be sure to register for our upcoming webinar, “Leadership Pipeline: The Role of the Volunteer.” Here is part four.
I realize that thinking about the systems at your church is not the most exciting thing in the world. Odds are strong that you have not heard a conference speaker proclaim systems are the secret to success. Even if you have, you likely came back to your church with a conference buzz but immediately felt swamped by the never-ending stream of emails, responsibilities, and the fact that Sunday is coming and occurs 52 weeks a year. Three weeks later, your conference buzz is gone, you have settled back in to your groove, and you never implemented the ideas that sprang out of what you saw and heard.
Still, the truth remains that healthy systems will ensure short-term and long-term success of your church. Systems are not ungodly. Your systems actually reveal your stewardship and how intentional you are with the people God has placed under your care. Systemization begins with auditing and documenting how you do what you do. Mapping out specific church processes and how they interact and overlap reveals more than you dreamed and maybe more than you feel comfortable exposing. These processes show what you value as a church and the gaps between your actual and aspirational values.
Even if you never fully implement a leadership pipeline at your church, auditing your systems is one of the healthiest things you can do. Take a look at your processes, forms, training, and so forth. In my previous church, I spearheaded the multisite ministry. By the time we launched our third campus, I had learned that if we didn’t have simple systems in place then we were headed for trouble. Nearly every time our pipeline got clogged and we had to take it apart to see what was wrong, the root cause was a systems issue.
Consider how many leaders serve in multiple ministries at your church. What different processes do they encounter? How many job descriptions do they have? How many leadership applications have they submitted? What varying language is used? I never found it fun or easy to develop a one-page template for job descriptions in all ministry areas. It felt embarrassing that our church used 26 different leadership applications. I thought we would never agree on definitions for the roles of coach and coordinator at our church. The systems audit was messy, to say the least. But we had to consider the number of God’s people who had not reached their next level of development because we had not reigned in and streamlined our disparate systems.
Pretend my family will attend your church for the first time this Sunday. What systems will I encounter this week and the following week? What forms will I fill out? What processes will I experience? What procedures will I encounter as I move from the parking lot to check in my kids with your children’s ministry? What will I experience as I shift from attending a class to attending a worship service? If offered, what will I gain from your follow-up and meeting for newcomers? How does each system connect to the next?
Aligning systems saves time and resources in addition to developing better leaders, so it is worth the work and will have significant payoff down the road. In our free e-booklet we provide a series questions you can go over with your church staff to help you process this and begin your audit process. For a practical starting point be sure to join us for our free upcoming webinar on March 17 – Leadership Pipeline: The Role of the Volunteer.