We pay far too little attention to the structures that we have in our churches and organizations for decision making. No matter how good our organizational clarity and how competent our leaders and people, when the structures that one must negotiate to make decisions - or to organize staff - or work with a board get clunky, they hold up ministry, waste precious time and energy and demotivate otherwise good leaders.
Eventually, unfriendly structures can actually kill a ministry or company as GM found out prior to filing bankruptcy. I have watched churches that were shining lights at one time go into slow decline because their staff and governance structures were not brought into alignment with new realities.
Let's consider staff structures. One church I am watching from a distance has a considerably large staff which has never been unified around common goals or direction. Led by fairly competent individuals, they have simply done their own ministries for decades. The end result is a staff with zero alignment, turf wars, confusion over who is responsible for what, lack of a common voice and when the church got into crisis, chaos. And this is a church that many would recognize by name in our country.
Yesterday I did a church consultation in Europe and staff were begging for greater clarity about reporting relationships, who was setting direction and how to achieve alignment. The lack of these things in a growing and effective ministry is causing frustration for staff who in the process feel under appreciated and unempowered.
Structures at the leadership level are no less important. Here is the question: How easy is it for you as a leader to make timely ministry decisions and how many groups do you need to go to in order to do so? When the decision making process becomes frustrating you know it is time to tune up the process. This involves getting your board structure in sync, eliminating additional boards or committees that you need to negotiate with and simplifying your governance system. For those of you who have ever been through the Chicago area with its toll roads, it is moving from toll booths to easy pass.
Staff and ministry structures matter because their either impede or help effective ministry. If you have issues with either one, take the time to address it. The positive impact of doing so will be significant.