The Problem With Structure
Regardless of your church’s size, there’s no doubt it is built on an organizational structure. To effectively lead a large number of people, you need a way to protect your circle of influence and the decision-making process. This is why most church boards and leadership teams were created.
Over time, however, a structure meant to protect your progress can actually begin to get in the way. When a structure overly-directs which people are involved in decisions, it will box out the new perspectives you need. Eventually, leading strictly according to structure will get your church stuck. You may have experienced one of these side effects:
- You leave staff meetings feeling like you barely moved the ball forward.
- The thought of board meetings creates more stress than excitement.
- You know you need new ideas but you’re not sure what they are.
To keep a church moving forward, leaders must see structure for what it truly is: Structure provides protection but often blocks out new perspectives.
Are you feeling the pains of an overly-directive structure? Here are 3 ways you can let in the new perspectives you need:
1. Promote the best, not the next in line.
The view of organizational structures as a ladder has ruined our approach to promotions. When a position opens up, we naturally look one rung down for a replacement. But the best person for the job isn’t always next in line.
Who deserves to be promoted beyond their seniority?
2. Value leadership capacity over expertise.
Our natural tendency is to put the person who knows the most about a ministry in charge of it. But leadership is more about influencing people than knowing the right decisions to make. High capacity leaders will figure out what they need to know.
Which high-capacity leader deserves greater influence?
3. Build tables for the right perspectives, not the right positions.
We tend to organize meetings based on leadership levels. But same-level leaders often have too much of a similar perspective. If you want to change the way your team makes decisions, you have to change who is seated at the table. It doesn’t matter what title they hold or whether or not they get a “vote” at the end. It matters that you involve people who will push you to see beyond where you are.
Who else do you need to invite to your next meeting?
If you’re starting to feel like your church’s structure is over-directing the people you involve, take steps to break out and let fresh perspectives in. Here are a couple resources from The Unstuck Group that can help:
Take The Lid Off Your Church: This eBook from Tony Morgan is designed to help you build a healthy senior leadership team.
Staffing & Structure Review: This process will help you get the right people in the right roles to move your church forward.