I was recently talking with my good friend Eddie, part of the leadership team at a mega-church, and I asked, “What’s a blind spot smaller churches seem to have – from the vantage point of mega-church world?”
Eddie didn’t even hesitate. “Your organizational structures are killing you,” he said.
Me: “What does that mean? How can we organize differently?”
Eddie: “Last year, we had the idea to start a multi-site location one Tuesday. It was the first time we had ever talked about it. Six weeks later, on Easter Sunday, we opened the site. How many committees would your church have had to go through to do that? How many people would have had to approve it? How long would it have taken you?”
At Eddie’s mega-church, there’s a weekly Tuesday meeting of their 6 or 7 primary leaders. He says everything could change on any given Tuesday.
Now we’re not all trying to become mega-churches. That’s not what I’m advocating here. And maybe we would say there are good reasons to move a bit more slowly. But is there a chance your organizational structures are a serious problem? How long does it take to make a relatively major decision? How many meetings have to be called?
How long to make even a minor decision? Are there less-than-earth-shattering things that likely can’t be accomplished in three months’ time because there are too many steps in the decision-making process to get there by then?
[For an example of how the UMC is struggling with this at an Annual Conference level, not to even mention the General Conference level, see here.]
How come a 3,000-member church is able to turn more quickly than churches much smaller? This seems to defeat the whole notion/excuse that “It takes an aircraft carrier a long time to turn around.”
And is there a risk that church politics start to play a bigger role when people know how easy it is to throw a wrench into the middle of plans and grind everything to a halt – or at least slow it enough that it’s likely to die?
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For anyone in church leadership, you should take the time to read the article “Leadership and Church Dynamics,” by Tim Keller. Thanks to Chad Brooks for pointing it out to me. Find the link here (requires free registration) or download the PDF directly here.