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ChurchLead is a collection of articles aimed at helping churches become more effective in their mission.
  • Visitor Connection and Closing the Church Back Door
  • Effective Communication and Processes in the church
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Monday, 21 June 2010
Series: Organized Dysfunction - Part 2

In my first post, I made the comment that "Poor tactical planning resulting in flawed ministry processes marginalizes the effectiveness of far too many churches."  This of course begs the question of "What are ministry processes?"

Ministry processes are the steps taken to achieve the objectives of the ministry. This can also be described as the way we “do” church. There are processes for connecting visitors, caring for members, following up with absentees, planning events, communication and spiritual formation.  It is not a question of whether or not you want to use ministry processes, the fact is that you already use them.  They are intentional or unintentional as well as either effective or ineffective. 

Intentional or Unintentional:  Intentional ministry processes are the ones we design and execute according to overriding objectives.  In the absence of intentional processes, we inevitably develop ad hoc processes that fill the gaps.  They may "put out the fire" but they don't really solve the problem much less accomplish something great.  In order to be intentional, a leader must understand the objective and consciously move in that direction. 

Bottom Line: Intentional ministry processes have time-lines and goals.

Effective or Ineffective:  Obviously, if we are being intentional in our efforts, we want our processes to be effective.  Unfortunately, this is not a simple thing to achieve.  There are two levels of ministry process effectiveness.  The first is being effective within your specific ministry context.  The second is being effective in the context of overall church objectives.  I want to deal with the first with effectiveness within the context of a specific ministry.  Many churches are serious about following their ministry processes. Names are gathered, attendance is taken, reports are generated, letters are sent, contacts are made and meetings are held. Unfortunately, the end result does not always achieve the intended objectives. Even worse, many times success was simply impossible due to poor planning in the beginning stages. 

Bottom Line: Good processes have predictable results.

Next article:  Organizational Success and Ministry Silos
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 05:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 08 June 2010
Having helped hundreds of churches implement various technology solutions, I have come to appreciate the difference between potential and real improvement in church processes.  Simply put, purchase decisions are made on the potential of becoming more effective, while the reality is that most will never achieve success.  The reason for this phenomenon is different in every church but I have seen several factors that are common.
  1. Technology implementation is viewed as an issue of minor importance.  This is a misguided perception, but all too common.  If proper use and application of tools were not important, I would be able to build a house with the tools in my garage!  After all, they are the right tools.  The truth is that I could build something using my tools, but it would not be a house you would want to live in!  The correlation is that the implementation process will be the determining factor between success and failure.  Since technology is just a tool for a church to use, it is incumbent on the leaders to make sure that the tools are used properly and for the right purpose.
  2. Technology implementation is viewed as a lower priority than all other ministry activities.  On the surface, this seems like a reasonable statement.  After all, it is the ministry that matters, right?  Well, yes, but if the implementation is never temporarily elevated to a high place of priority it will never be used effectively. Leaders must properly position the project as a temporary high priority so that there can be an actual improvement in ministry performance. Afterward, technology can go back to it's appropriate supporting role.
  3. Technology implementation is not put in proper perspective.  Let's face it, change = pain!  People don't like change and they resist the hard work unless they see the value in the outcome.  The staff needs to know that the change is being made for the improvement of ministry efforts and not just to have the latest technology.  The senior leadership of the staff will either sanction the project by properly framing the intent of the changes or they will allow it to languish in obscurity.  Typically, all I want from a senior pastor on a technology project is for him to share his perspective of why the changes are needed with the staff.  The project requires his unwavering support of the implementation process and the intent to see it to the finish.  I like to think of it as similar to early settlers burning the ships on the shore so that everyone knew that going back was not an option. 
  4. Technology implementation is led by someone with too little authority.  A good implementation plan will include tasks that need to be performed and accountability for those who have been given those tasks.  Many times, an administrative person of the staff has been given the unenviable task of managing the project.  How can they possibly hold a pastor accountable for their tasks?  The most successful implementations of technology always have a senior staff leader who owns the project to completion.
It all comes down to this.  If the benefit of the technology is never achieved, then all of the planning and effort was a complete and utter waste of time and money.  The worst part is that the staff had to go through the pain of change even though the benefit was not attained.  Most times, we just blame the technology and look for a new solution rather than admit that the implementation was a failure.  It is always humorous to hear people get excited about a cool feature in a new software program that existed in their old system!

There are many reasons to implement new technology.  I encourage churches to use as much care in the implementation as they did in the tool selection.  Technology can provide great benefits if it is used the right way, at the right time, by the right people, with the right training, for the right purpose.
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 08:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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