Why Deciding Is Only Half the Battle
The steps necessary after the initial decision is made are as important as the decision itself.
There really was no choice. After four years of growth, despite enlarging the parking lot, our problem was becoming more severe.
Street parking was already jammed. Purchase of adjacent land wasn't feasible. The only alternative, concluded the long-range planning committee, was to pave part of the church ball field, which hadn't been used in three years and was covered with weeds two feet high.
The elders voted unanimously to recommend the proposal at the next congregational meeting. It seemed such an obvious decision that we quickly moved on to the next item of business.
At the congregational meeting, however, person after person raised strong objections:
"Buy more property."
"We built that for the kids."
"Are you certain we need more parking?"
When the vote was taken, the motion failed to carry. I was more stunned than disappointed. I was amazed at the vociferous reaction over a minor issue. And why weren't the people more concerned about our continued growth?
As I evaluated the meeting with the chairman of the elder board and long-range planning committee, I realized we had made a fundamental mistake in our decision-making process: we had made a decision without adequately preparing to follow through. We had not informed the congregation prior to the meeting that the vote was going to be taken. We had not considered how to prepare the congregation for the vote, nor had we marshaled the evidence to support the paving of the ball field.
Simply making a decision is meaningless unless it is carried out effectively. Later on, when clearly shown the implications of our decision, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to pave the field.
Unfortunately, this incident didn't cure me of my penchant to neglect the second half of the decision-making process. I had to learn the hard way.
Recently we completed a new worship center. In our old facility, we had been filled to capacity with double services and two Sunday schools. Now, since everyone could fit, I announced we could return to one worship service. It seemed a simple decision, so I made it … and nearly had revolution on my hands. If lynching wasn't outlawed in Minnesota, my staff members might have tried it.
I hadn't thought through how the decision would affect the Christian education department, which had grown so much with double sessions that even the new facility couldn't handle everything at once. But I had announced one worship service, and therefore one c.e. session.
After much negotiation and analysis, we finally agreed that we'd likely grow enough this year to be in double worship services again next September. So we settled on a less-than-ideal c.e. program for a year in order to have everyone together in worship. One worship service, I'm convinced, was the right decision. But I went at it all wrong. I didn't think through the follow-through, and thus I was responsible for a lot of grief. In retrospect, ...