Analysing Your Minimum Factor: Effective Structures
The purpose of this series is to offer some basic “entry points” for beginning to explore your Minimum Factor graph.
This post is for those whose Minimum Factor is Effective Structures.
Two initial points need to be made.
First, all the questions relate to the degree to which the organisational structure of the church actively contributes to the healthy growth of the church. The higher a question’s result, the greater its contribution to the effectiveness of the structures.
Secondly, the questions are included in the survey because it has been shown to high degree of accuracy in international statistical terms that they distinguish healthy growing churches from those in decline. In effect, churches attracting higher scores for these questions are more likely to be growing, and vice versa. Not liking the questions, or thinking other questions would be better, in no way detracts from the 10 appearing on the graph.
I like to look at the questions for Effective Structures in the following thematic order. There is a combination of static and dynamic, and present and future.
1. Effectiveness of existing organisational structure
Q57 – I understand clearly how the different parts of our church work together
Q60 – It is my impression that the organizational structure of our church hinders church life rather than promotes it (neg)
Does everyone know how the church functions: who is responsible for what; who makes decisions and how; who they approach to get questions answered; and how the component parts fit together into a coherent whole? How clearly is all that communicated? People need to know where they fit.
Structures can hinder growth by being chaotic at one extreme or totally hidebound and inflexible at the other. The fundamental issue is whether people perceive the organisational structures as clear, dynamic and flexible enough to actually promote growth, much like a skeleton grows and adapts as the body grows.
Q91 – The activities of our church are well planned and organized
Q18 – The leaders of the ministries of our church meet regularly for planning
Are the church leaders proactive or reactive? Do they approach everything in an organised way or are people always scrambling to get things done, jumping from one thing to the next and fighting fires? Is there a sense that energy is wasted for no good reason?
Planning pre-supposes forums for regular decision making; people with authority to make those decisions and being accountable for them; setting priorities; assessing the fruitfulness of ministries and activities; allocating precious resources; and communicating all that to the congregation in a coherent way.
3. “Are we heading somewhere?”
Q23 – Our leaders actively support church development
Q67 – I know the goals we are working towards as a church
Q63 – In our church we often try new things
Some leaders define success as things running smoothly. They send the impression that as long as the church basically “ticks over” from one week to the next, one year to the next, without major incident they are satisfied. It suggests a belief that future healthy growth will come from more of the same.
Most people, however, need a strong sense that the church is going somewhere, and that its leaders are committed to determining what that is and taking them on that journey. It affects the sense of hope and the commitment of energy to church life. An entirely static view of church structures ends up producing entirely static people. (See also Q22 and Q45 in Empowering Leadership.)
4. Empowering individuals to play their part
Q40 – The volunteers of our church are trained frequently
Q64 – The small group and ministry leaders in our church each mentor at least one other person
Q24 – My contributions to church life are reviewed regularly
These questions speak to a fundamental dynamic of church structures – the equipping and empowering of lay people to do the works of service in the life of the church. The basic elements are there: training to do tasks well; the value of mentoring; the multiplication of ministry; and reviewing how people are going regularly so that they can be encouraged and equipped further where necessary. That requires planning. (See complementary questions in Empowering Leadership and Gift-based Ministry.)