4 February, 2020
I've worked on quite a few church teams over the years. From new church plants to more established churches, and urban areas to rural areas, I've seen a lot. And in the majority of those churches and the churches our team works with today, I see a couple issues that are almost always prevalent:
Most churches today really struggle with follow-through and accountability.
It might not seem flashy, and it might not even seem "spiritual" to you. But these issues influence every area of our ministry: How successful we are at casting and accomplishing our vision (AKA reaching our community), how effective our volunteer culture is, whether or not expectations are actually defined for volunteers and staff, whether or not deadlines are defined and met, and the list goes on.
We see it all the time.
Not too long ago, I was working with a church that has been around for over 20 years. After so many years of "doing church" a certain way, their team had really created a streamlined process of how their Sunday morning service is done. But their team was starting to lose the excitement and creativity they used to have when planning services.
When we talked about where they wanted to go as a church, one of the first things they said is that they wanted to add more creative elements into their services to switch things up for their congregation.
They had BIG ideas. BIG plans. BIG promise.
But you know what they didn't have? Processes to ensure follow-through and accountability. And to put it simply, none of their plans were ever accomplished because the urgent became the priority over the goals they had set as a team.
These issues are why churches don't walk out a strategic plan they took the time to develop.
These issues are why churches become program-driven as they don't have a process in place to keep them focused on their specific mission.
And these issues are why pastors struggle to prioritize leadership development, holding on to too much of the ministry for too long.
- The Spooky Truth About Follow-Through in Churches
- How to Develop Scalable Systems That Support Healthy Ministry Growth
- Episode 17: Follow-Through & Accountability in Small Churches
Here's how: We put processes in place that clearly communicate expectations and define how we're going to be held accountable.
Don't miss this. Maybe it sounds too simple. Maybe it sounds too boring. Whatever you're thinking, hear me out.
Let's break it down:
In smaller churches, most of us don't like the word "process." We feel like it's too corporate. Too official. Not churchy enough.
So we avoid creating processes and strive for a more "organic" family feel.
But if we don't define the systems and processes for organization and sustainable growth in our ministry, we inevitably end up throwing away the opportunities for growth that God gives us.
Guests fall through the cracks. People who express interest in volunteering are forgotten. Decisions aren't made. And the list goes on...
Not too long ago, we featured an article on developing effective systems. But ultimately, if we want to improve follow-through and accountability in our church, it starts with how we're structured. And effective processes are crucial to an effective structure.
In many churches, expectations of a position, task, or project are often assumed and rarely defined.
Here's what that means: The expectations on someone are existent, but they remain in the minds of the pastor or the leadership team. They aren't clearly shared.
That's a recipe for disaster, and a whole lot of conflict.
Simple solution: Provide and sign-off on written job descriptions for every single volunteer or staff position.
Make that a required part of your systems and structure.
The best way to communicate expectations is to communicate them. By putting the expectations in writing, you are able to sit down upfront with clarity about what's required, while setting yourself up for success down the road if those expectations aren't met.
When expectations are defined, then a conversation on accountability can begin.
Even a church with the best ideas will always fall short if execution on those ideas never occurs.
Here's what a lack of accountability often looks like in churches:
Plans and ideas are shared but are never acted on. (This is huge.)
Deadlines are missed.
Follow-up isn't prioritized.
Volunteers and staff members are isolated.
A culture of accountability is a foundation for a healthy church. Plain and simple. Without it, initiatives die, the ministry struggles to gain momentum, and the urgent remains the priority.
If you were to ask anyone on our team what we believe are some of the most consistent issues in the churches we work with, follow-through and accountability would be our answer. These two things have a ripple effect across every area of the church. And addressing them is a crucial way to gain more momentum in our efforts to make a real difference in our communities for Jesus.
The health of a leader directly impacts the health of a church.
We say that a lot around here, and I hope you agree. Great leaders cast clear vision for a ministry. They lead the hard changes to become more effective in reaching people for Jesus. And they invest in the lives of those they lead.
This is why we launched something called 95Network Membership, a resource developed specifically for leaders of small and mid-size churches. Every month, we'll bring you new content that will challenge you, encourage you, and help you lead your church well.
Check it out: