By Elliott Wood
Have you ever driven a car whose wheels were not in alignment? It’s as if you know where you’re trying to go, but the car seems to be in disagreement. To go straight on the highway, you have to hold the steering wheel at a turn. After a while on the interstate, you may grow tired of the extra effort of holding that turn. Your car may vibrate and make your ride uncomfortable, and your car takes extra wear and tear. According to Google, a wheel misalignment of just 1% can cause a 25% increase in rolling resistance. A 2% misalignment can cause a 100% increase in rolling resistance. This causes a decrease in fuel efficiency, damages the integrity of the tire, and makes for an uncomfortable ride.
How is This Related to my Ministry?
In our consulting work with churches, we’re often called in to help with the processes and technology tools used by a church (such as church management software, communications systems, and other technology) that are not in alignment with their mission and vision. If mission is “what” we are doing and vision is “where” we are going, it is essential that the church’s processes and tools support and enable the mission and vision.
This often shows up when a church uses a church management system that was implemented years ago. Perhaps the software has changed along the way or the church’s mission and vision have changed or grown since that initial implementation.
In the broadest sense, the mission of the church is to disciple people and help them move from a curious guest to an invested member of the body of Christ, who then pours in to other people. Locally, each church has a unique calling and mission to their local community born out of their own gifts and passions.
Each church needs tools that efficiently help the staff and member leaders connect with their community, identify opportunities for ministry and communicate with members and guests. These tools need to be aligned to that church’s unique mission and vision.
When the church’s processes and tools are out of alignment, there is friction that makes it hard to do ministry.
- Staff spend hours copying and pasting from one spreadsheet to another
- Pastors can’t see useful data to identify potential leaders
- Simple tasks like finding accurate contact information are time consuming.
When ministry tools are out of alignment, we spend more time managing the tools than doing the ministry. It diverts our energy and focus from what and where to frustrating problems that drag down momentum.
Five Keys to Alignment
1. Know your ministry mission, values, strategy, measures, and vision.
Knowing what you are doing, why you are doing it, where you are going, and how you’ll know when you get there are critical to alignment. This is the most important thing because this is the task that puts you on the right path and helps you make all subsequent decisions.
· Vision – Where are we going?
· Mission – What are we doing it?
· Values – Why?
· Strategy – How will we do it?
· Measures – How do we know when we are there?
2. Make sure your processes are aligned with your mission.
Processes are the strategy of “how” we get to our destination. Do you have a discipleship process in place? Perhaps it starts with a welcome class, then joining a small group, then becoming a member of a service team, and eventually ends up with people sharing their lives with new people in a way that develops new disciples.
Have you defined on paper what the steps are? Who should follow up with new members and potential participants for each ministry program?
3. Ensure that your technology tools align with your discipleship processes.
Are you able to track the progress of individuals as well as the church as a whole in growth and discipleship? Is your method efficient?
Does your church management system allow you to track all of the contact information, activities, and growth of people in one place? Or do you find yourself using third-party tools or spreadsheets to track items and do tasks that your ChMS software doesn’t do (or do well)?
4. Determine whether the issues just need a realignment or whether the tools are not suited to your mission and vision.
Take the appropriate actions to either realign and re-implement your current systems to your mission and vision OR start identifying your needs for a different system.
o Make a list of the issues in a spreadsheet and add a column to identify the “gap” – is the issue a software capability issue, a training issue, or a configuration issue?
o Prioritize the list
o If the issue is a configuration issue, go back to steps two and three and see if you can re-configure the software to better support your process
o If the issue is training, develop a curriculum for training existing staff and for onboarding new staff in the way your church uses the software. Don’t rely on the ChMS knowledge base to train your staff
o If the primary issues are that the software does not have the capabilities you need, then it may be time to search for new software.
5. Reach out for help if you need it.
Experienced guides can help you articulate your unique mission and vision so that you can align your tools in a way that helps you move forward. Enable Ministry Partners can help your church go through this process, from mission and vision to implementation.
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Elliott Wood is Director of Consulting for Enable Ministry Partners