There are two different types of churches, organizationally.
Static and dynamic.
As we saw in a previous article, Why Most Small Churches Don’t Use (Or Need) An Organizational Chart, the smaller the church, the less necessary it is to use a static organizational system.
Static churches have a thorough Org Chart, with positions that need to be filled, and each position is arranged in some sort of hierarchy. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and who reports to whom based on the Org Chart.
Some statically–organized churches have a physical chart on display, while others operate by an unseen, but just as strongly defined system.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having and/or using an Org Chart. In fact, the bigger the church, the more essential it becomes. When you’re trying to coordinate dozens, even hundreds of leadership positions, the Org Chart reduces chaos and helps create stability.
But if you’re pastoring a small church and you want to move from static to dynamic, how do you do that?
Here are 5 starter steps:
1. Understand and explain the differences between static and dynamic churches
If static churches use an Org Chart to define what people do, a dynamically-organized church will change what they do based on the people they have.
This is especially true in smaller congregations because in a small church the arrival or departure of one person or family can change your ability and/or need for entire ministry departments.
If you want to move toward a dynamic organizational style, or simply remove the vestiges of a static system, the key leaders in the church need to understand these differences and why moving to a dynamic style is a smart move for your church.
2. Understand and explain the organizational differences between big and small churches
In a lot of small churches, the argument against switching to a dynamic organizational style will often be “but such-and-such a church does it this way.”
It’s important for church leaders to understand that “such-and-such church” does it that way because they’re larger, while smaller churches have different needs, benefits and methods.
3. Ask “what can we do well?” not “what have we always done?”
Pastors of dynamically-organized churches have to be great listeners. We have to hear, understand and sympathize with the needs of our church members. And we need to know them well enough to know how to utilize and combine their talents and spiritual gifts.
“What have we always done?” is a static question. “What can we do well right now?” is a dynamic question.
We can answer the first question with an Org Chart. We can only answer the second question by knowing the people in our church, discipling them to grow in their faith, helping them develop their leadership abilities, and knowing how to combine their diverse gifts and personalities to create workable teams.
4. Replace the Org Chart with a better system of communication
Lack of an Org Chart is no excuse for lack of organization. The best way to keep organized in a small church with constantly shifting positions is to communicate constantly, communicate concisely, and communicate compassionately.
First, communicate constantly. The more things change, the more we need to keep the channels of communication open.
Second, communicate concisely. We live in an age of information overload. The last thing any of us want is another meeting to go to or another email to answer. So if we’re going to communicate constantly, we need to do so in the most concise, useful ways possible. Use a planning app, a wall calendar, or whatever tools work best for your situation. And keep your meetings as short and useful as possible.
Third, communicate positively. If the only time you’re hearing from a team member is when someone is complaining, communication will dry up. We need to keep the conversation about problem-solving, not blame-placing.
5. Be persistent, patient and compassionate
This takes time. Don’t rush it. But don’t give up on it, either. And don’t dismiss the feelings of the hard-working member who’s having a difficult time with the transition.
Change can happen. People can learn. But if we really want people to become more adaptable to change, sometimes the first adaptation is in the heart of the leader who wants to rush things along too fast.
It’s better to do it well than to do it fast. And a big part of doing it well is bringing as many people along for the ride as possible.
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