I’ve been reading The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. I think every church leader and pastor should read it. Here’s one concept that I have already had a few conversations about.
There are three stages in any organization – Infancy, Adolescence and Maturity. In infancy, the leader must do it all. Everything is new, everything is one person oriented (because that’s all there is) and everything is manageable because it’s based around the gift of the person who dreamed it up or who was given charge over it.
If things work, the infant business or organization begins to grow, then all of sudden, the leader finds himself in a situation of needing help. So, he pulls in people to join them and they have entered the adolescent stage of the organization. This is where it become critical.
The leader needs to transition to spend time working on the systems in the organization while also working in the organization. It’s the job of the leader to fine tune and document the systems so others can join him in the process.
If the leader hires someone and they both put their nose to the floor and keep sweeping, creating, making, writing, and serving (and any of the many other jobs there are) it will become terribly inefficient and frustrating. Without the clear organization in the leader’s mind (and this being written down) there will be not effective goals, measurements, delegation or management. Once things begin to get tough, the leader will naturally, yet unknowingly, shrink his organization / business back down to the infancy size where the leader was comfortable with doing the work, albeit exhausted.
The pattern will continue, bumping from infancy to adolescence, hitting walls, growing stale and eventually burning out.
How do organizations move through the middle stage to maturity? By building the systems employees can grasp. By setting goals to move through the process. Building a plan that provides consistency in leadership for the sake of the customers – so they will know what to expect every time they show up.
For most of the great pastors I know, it’s a difficult transition to begin to work on the systems of ministry more than working directly in ministry. But if you want to grow the church, you will need to grow in this skill.
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