By Todd Adkins
How do you create clarity and alignment in your church structure? My team has had the privilege of walking church leaders through our leadership pipeline process around the United States as well as in Australia and India. I can tell you that it’s fairly easy to get everyone on board with the scriptural foundation and strategy of leadership pipeline. But now we’re about to meddle with your day-to-day ministry. The two components that are often the most difficult to implement are structure and systems. These components don’t seem like that big of a deal at first, but they often cause the keepers of the status quo to rise with torches and pitchforks in hand. Let’s take a look at why so often this is the case.
Your church has probably restructured or reorganized a time or two. For some churches, it seems like an annual event. Leadership pipeline focuses on bringing clarity and alignment to the formal and informal elements within a church or organization. You may reorganize your formal structure and everything looks great on paper, but when you get right down to it, the informal structure is still at play. Individual ministry areas do not appear as silos on paper, but the reality is often quite different.
If you don’t believe me, ask one of your volunteers or leaders. Odds are likely that many people serve in more than one ministry at your church and they have different experiences in each one. These differences create confusion and frustration for volunteers and leaders. When our language, titles, roles, and levels of leadership vary from ministry to ministry, we make a leader guess what’s important, what a win is, and what’s their next step of development.
Remember, structure is more than your org chart. Structure is about identifying the levels of your church’s leadership pipeline and defining each one with clarity and consistency. That’s why it is critical that language, titles, and roles for your church are consistent from ministry to ministry. When you do so, all your volunteers, leaders, and staff know their next steps of development within your pipeline.
Now these are the titles and definitions that we use for our coaching and consulting and within our Ministry Grid training, but you may need to contextualize to best fit your church’s development culture.
- Volunteers lead themselves
- Leaders lead others
- Coaches lead leaders
- Ministry directors lead ministry areas
- And senior leadership leads the church as a whole
We’ve worked with small, large, and megachurches alike. And I can tell you that for the majority of churches, there are four levels of leadership in their pipeline: volunteers, leaders, ministry directors, and senior leadership. A few have a leadership structure that adds the coach level between leaders and directors.
Regardless of your church’s size, when you create clarity and alignment, all your volunteers, leaders, and staff know their next steps in leadership development.
For more information on leadership pipeline, check out our Ministry Grid course here.