About one year into leading a rapidly growing church, things were spinning out of control. There were people everywhere and we had no processes to get anything done. My friend Matt sent be a verse from the book of Proverbs that changed things.
Proverbs 19:2 says “passion without knowledge is not good.” I was a church planter drunk on passion and vision, but had no real strategy to make anything happen. Passion alone wasn’t enough, I needed to get organized around that passion.
I’ve met many well-meaning, good-hearted people who simply can’t get anything done. I don’t think the problem is a lack of understanding around the calling, or a vision to reach people for Jesus. A lot of churches have systems problems…organizational oversights that hinder growth.
Seven Principles of Church Systems
1. Good systems don’t naturally develop. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (also called the law of entropy) states that things naturally go from a state of order to chaos. This scientific principle is the reason that my kid’s clean room turns into a disaster area in twenty minutes. What begins well in the church often gets confusing and muddy over time. This is why we must evaluate and improve, because if you leave things alone, they get worse all by themselves.
2. Good systems solve problems. Trying harder rarely leads to greater results. Instead of asking everyone to problem solve setup issues, create a system for people to follow. Instead of dealing with volunteer issues all the time, create a system to onboard people the healthy way.
3. Planning saves money. I saw a triangle once that had the words good, cheap and fast in the three corrners. The rule is you could have any two of the three you want. You can have good and cheap, but you’re not gonna get that fast. You can fast and cheap, but it won’t be good. Planning allows churches to have things good and cheap, and that’s where most need to be.
4. Planning leads to better decisions. If you have some good systems in place, you will make better decisions. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3. “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” – Proverbs 14:15
5. Someone needs to think this way. If you’re wired for passion and vision (like most pastors and church planters), then you are probably not good when it comes to thinking through systems. . That’s okay, but you MUST find someone who is. You can let organized volunteers speak into this process or bring in someone to help you set things up for maximum effectiveness. “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” – Proverbs 9:9
6. Involve your team. When people contribute to the creation of the system, there’s automatic buy in. People don’t like to be handed a plan and hear, “Hey, you…go execute this.” If you can involve your team in building healthy systems, they will be far more effective at running them.
7. Write it down. A system that’s not written down, referenced and discussed won’t make a difference. Get those ideas out of your head and create a document. And bring that document out of the folder on your computer and talk about it in real life.
Church Systems Action Steps
- If you haven’t done it already, go through my Organize Your Church in 30 Days course. It’s free.
- Do a systems makeover. Consider bringing in someone to help. You will surprised in how much you could accomplish with just one or two days of focus.
- Pick one system that needs improvement and work on it this week.
Getting organized isn’t about making ministry easier, it’s about making it more effective.