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08 – How to Design Church as a Rocking Organization


Ever face the embarrassment of something important slipping through the cracks? Are there times when your work environment feels chaotic? Is there confusion about how decisions are made or to whom to go to for answers?

Those are symptoms of a problem with your organizational framework.


This is my third post is about the organizational framework of your church. Framework is the organizational component that defines:
• Functions (what ministries do we offer?)
• Roles and responsibilities (who does what?)
• Governance (how are decisions made?)

In this post we will focus on organizational roles and responsibilities.

Question of the day

Who does what?

At first glance this seems pretty straightforward but lack of clarity here can cause a lot of trouble. Especially in churches that use a team approach to ministry.

Typically, each team member has some area(s) of specialization for which they are responsible. In addition, there are expectations that all team members will share some responsibilities – such as caring for the needs of the people.

It’s fairly easy to hold staff members accountable for the tasks related to their specific areas of responsibility. Where the ball more frequently gets dropped is in those areas of shared responsibilities when it’s easy for tired team members to hope or assume someone else will get it done.

Let’s be blunt. People get overwhelmed with their workload and tend to focus only on what is specifically required of them.

Increase clarity, reduce miscommunication

The goal is to enhance team performance by coordinating the efforts of many people. You need to do three things.

1. Create job descriptions – this may sound old school but there will always be value in putting expectations in writing. Good job descriptions are designed to encourage coordination and cooperation. They define roles, responsibilities, and relationships that enable diverse ministry areas to mesh rather than compete.

2. Assign a Coordinator – you need a single “go-to” person that is ultimately responsible to make things happen. Specific responsibilities need to be assigned to specific team members as needs arise. Otherwise they risk ending up like a high-fly ball in a baseball game that drops between the shortstop, second baseman, and center fielder because everyone expected someone else to catch it.

3. Develop a repeatable plan – make a checklist of the basic elements of the activity that can be tailored for each specific occasion. We will cover this is more detail when we talk about organizational systems, which are repeatable processes.

Bottom line

A sound organizational framework greatly reduces chaos, confusion, and frustration for church leaders and workers.

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