I was talking with a motorcycle instructor about proper technique during his classes. Even though the students only learn at slow speeds, the systems he puts in place allow for maximum safety once they begin faster speeds. If a person brakes the proper way while going slowly, he will be fine once he is up to full speed. But though an improper brake method can work for slow speeds, it’s very dangerous at fast speeds. It’s so important to have the right techniques in place once you’re out on the road.
As short conversation unfolded, I began to think about structures in an organization, mainly church ministry. If systems are in place that work for both slow pace and a fast, full growth pace, you will begin to grow. But, I’m afraid many churches are using techniques that only work for maintaining what’s already in place. It’s not that it won’t work, it’s just that it will only work while at slow speeds. The volunteer staff, new member assimilation systems, and the hospitality teams are usually barely staffed to cover who is already there (the slow speeds) and not staffed and organized around the many people who could be in attendance (the fast speed). The well meaning church wants to reach out and grow, but the systems are not in place for it!
How can we turn it around? No matter the size of your church or organization, you must staff for growth. Here are the steps to begin creating the right systems and techniques to be ready for fast speeds on the open road:
Clarify Your Status: What is the average worship attendance? What are your concrete working systems for welcoming guests, assimilation of guests into the life of the church and for developing volunteers who serve in these teams? Good or bad, we need to name where we are so that we can begin to move forward.
Take a Step Up: Envision your ministry (average worship attendance) reaching 50% more people. What systems would need to be in place with that influx of people? How would you welcome them? How would you help them get plugged in? Who are key leaders who would be involved in helping to make it all happen?
Put The New System In Place Take the techniques you dreamed of using if you had a 50% increase in attendance and begin using them now! Though it may seem over the top to staff volunteers like there was going to be 50% more in attendance, this is the technique that works for both slow and fast pace! Once it’s in place, it will work as growth comes.
Sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons that Christmas, Easter and other well attended Sundays are because the churches go all out to think big on those days. We know more people are probably going to attend so we promote big, plan big and arrange hospitality for big attendance – and lo and behold – the people come in droves! I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we kept those systems in place each week.
Don’t keep systems around that don’t promote growth. Sure, they work when you only have a few people, but when things move faster, they fail quickly. Have the right technique in place so that when your church is moving at 65 miles an hour, you’re still able to keep it up.
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