Developing Reproducible Systems/Functional Structures

In my experience as a pastor, leadership coach, and interventionist this issue of developing reproducible systems, or functional structures, is one of the two most common struggles faced by congregations (the other is a commitment to inevitable conflict resolution).

The Church is the living Body of Christ. Like all healthy organisms, it requires numerous systems which work together to fulfill its intended purpose. Each must be evaluated regularly to determine if it is still the best way to accomplish the intended purpose.

Ministry Systems

  1. Cell –> Cardiovascular –>Nutrients/Care & Nurture
  2. Celebration –> Respiratory/Oxygen –> Worship & Spirit
  3. Nurture –> Digestive/Food Process –> Teaching
  4. Communication –> Nervous/Sensory & Motor –> Awareness & Discernment
  5. Management –> Skeletal/Support –> Organized Structure
  6. Outreach –> Reproductive/Procreation –> Evangelism, Cell, & Church Multiplication
  7. Intercession –> Endocrine/Hormones –> Prayer
  8. Counseling & Support –> Excretory/Eliminates Waste –> Counseling

Structures are… systems for communication and decision-making.

  • the programs and ministries of the church.
  • the systems and infrastructure which links them together into a unified organism.
  • the written and unwritten forms, institutions and regulations which define church culture.

Some churches see structures as immovable and unchangeable. They are resistant to structures becoming “functional” since that would mean change. In these churches, the leaders refuse to take responsibility for the structures which exist since in most cases they did not create them.

Other churches see structures as unspiritual and feel that if one is following the Spirit, “structures” are irrelevant to growth. Therefore, leaders feel it is unnecessary to evaluate structure.

If they are not functioning properly, the body is sick and will not thrive.

Functional structures are like the skeleton and organs which enable the body to fulfill its intended purpose.

An honest evaluation of effectiveness which may include:

  • being in accord with the values, mission and vision of the church and specific ministries.
  • producing intended results.
  • being congruent with biotic principles (NCD).
  • raising up more leaders for the harvest.
  • utilizing the giftedness of those involved.

Reflection Questions

  • When was the last time your values, vision, and mission were reviewed by the leadership of your church?
  • How does your church view the importance of functional structures?
  • Of the essentials for functional structures (clear vision and mission statement, honest evaluation of effectiveness and openness to strategic changes to increase fruitfulness), which are strengths and which are weaknesses for your church?
  • What will you do to make your ministries reproducible?
  • In what way does each ministry, program and system exemplify the six biotic principles?

Reproducible systems multiply functional structures
Reproducible systems allow important activities to be repeated without “re-inventing the wheel” each time.

They enable ministry to expand according to vision, need and increased capacity for ministry.

In order to be reproducible, a ministry must:

  • have an understandable philosophy of multiplication.
  • have clarity on structure and protocol.
  • be able to raise up the next generation of leaders from within.
  • be capable of bridging generational issues.
  • empower the newest person.
  • provide expressly measurable success indicators.
  • establish identity for participants.
  • mobilize for maximum prayer support.

Multiply reproducible systems
As the harvest is gathered, the church’s potential for multiplying disciples, groups and congregations must increase proportionally. Reproducible systems increase the capacity for a greater harvest so that multiplication can happen at all levels.

In order to develop functional structures several things have to be looked at:

Values: “Who are you?”
Mission: “Where are you going?”
Vision: “How will you get there?”
Outcomes: “Are you there yet?”
Ministry Flow Chart: “What are you doing to get where we’re going?”
Organizational Chart and Job Descriptions: “Who is going to do it, and what are they supposed to do?”

Reflection Questions

  • What are the core values of your church?
  • What are the indicators in ministry, human resources, finances or material which measure your effectiveness? What would change if there were a problem?
  • How would you explain “success,” in terms of your church’s vision, to an outsider?
  • What ministries are needed to enable a smooth flow of people from unchurched to fully-devoted followers?
  • Which programs are designed primarily to meet the needs of the unchurched community? How many people work in ministries aimed outside of the church? How much of the budget is spent on external ministries?
  • What does your organizational chart tell you about your church?

Making structures functional
Lack of functionality in structures comes from a lack of:

  • intentional approach to ministry and mission
  • overall ownership to a clear, concise vision
  • clarity to agreed upon model of ministry
  • commitment to excellence

Creating functional structures is an on-going process of:

  • evaluating — determining course action needed
  • planning — determining how that action will be carried out
  • implementing — actually doing it

Evaluate functional structures using three criteria:

  • how closely it is related to the vision
  • how effective it is in its operation with regards to its intended function and outcomes
  • what its contribution is to producing harvest leaders

Action Points
Removing – Like a dead or unproductive branch, some structures may need to be terminated. Other structures act as inhibitors to growth through distractions, resource draining and competing time slots. Essentially, they squeeze the life out of more vital ministries.

Pruning – By identifying the structure with the greatest potential for fruitfulness, other structures can be pruned to allow for more growth. Some structures, while essentially good, need to be cut back to maximize focus.

Shaping – Continual evaluation and minor improvements will assure continued growth. By affirming the areas which are bearing fruit, you can encourage and participate in more of what God is blessing.

Cultivating – Training, additional resources and coaching act as fertilizer to increase the fruitfulness of those in ministry. Weeding helps get rid of ministries which are competing for resources. Sometimes, grafting one ministry into another can enhance both ministries.

Reproducing – Apprenticing emerging leaders at every level is essential. You will assure that present ministries will have the capacity to continue and grow; new ministries will be launched to meet new needs as capacity increases.

Reflection Questions

  • What measurable results are you looking for in each ministry?
  • How clearly can you articulate the primary purpose for each ministry structure in your church? How effectively are those purposes being achieved?
  • What ministries do you need to stop doing? What ministries need to be re-purposed?
  • Which present structures enhance growth? Which ones hinder growth?
  • How many people have stepped into new areas of leadership in the past year?

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