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3 Indicators of Organization Dysfunction in Churches


Organization is not the essence of church. It is a tool we use to increase effectiveness in fulfilling our purpose. Nothing sacred about it. But if we are going to use it as a tool, let’s use it properly.

Organizations have to be built, altered, and maintained to be useful.

Many churches have a problem with organization dysfunction. That can be true of any institution or organization. Without diligent attention, initially invisible weaknesses become its downfall.

Here are 3 indicators of organization dysfunction.

1. The attic is full

Organizational “stuff” accumulates over time. Programs, practices, and activities are no longer vital but nobody wants to get rid of them. So we put them in the organizational attic to deal with at another time.

Eventually the clutter stifles creativity because who needs more stuff? What we need is a good housecleaning.

2. The tail is wagging the dog

Parochialism. A little used word that is defined by Dictionary.com as “excessive narrowness of interests or view”.

A more common word is silos. Applied to church, silos mean treating your particular area of ministry as if it is more important than other areas of ministry. Competing for attention and resources to advance your special interest.

What we really need is for all ministry leaders to work together toward a single mission and a shared vision.

3. Lack of clarity

This is a pet peeve of mine. Clarity about organizational purpose, values, priorities, and systems is one of the most powerful leadership tools available and yet seems to be a rare gem among churches.

For all the talk about things like mission, vision, and values, useful application of them seems frustratingly illusive.

Clarity on these core elements is the key to organizational health. Clarity is essential for alignment of organizational practices and cohesiveness among the leadership team.

The way to achieve clarity is for ministry leaders to spend some time thinking about and coming to agreement on what these core elements look like for your church.

Tool sharpening time

If organizational structures and systems are a tool for accomplishing our mission, don’t you think it’s important to keep the tool functioning well?

Like everything else, organizations tend to deteriorate over time. If not properly maintained, their effectiveness gradually erodes.

Does your church have a problem with organizational clutter, ministry silos, or lack of clarity about purpose and priorities?

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