Content is written by Rev. Mike Hunter, CCA
Would you drive without an instrument panel?
Without knowing your speed, how much fuel you had, etc., would you drive any significant distance? Perhaps a few miles in an emergency, but definitely not any great distance. It just isn’t wise and certainly isn’t a knowledgeable way to travel.
Church leaders do it all the time. They travel without full instruments of the big three:
Communications. Simply stated, the goal should be to develop clear, consistent messages that are delivered in “one clear voice.” Web presence. Social Media. Phone/fax/data. Email. These should be monitored and the response time measured. Not returning calls and emails conveys negative implications not easily reversed.
Calendars. Double book space, forget to turn on the HVAC, not capture important events in congregational communications, all because someone forgot to place on the calendar? Calendars are both communication and coordination. Have a process for calendaring everything and don’t allow departments to have separate, stand-alone calendars. Promote the many parts of one body in the priorities for calendaring. Have an all eyes see before dropping on calendar policy so individuals cannot manipulate singularly.
Capital. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30
Capital comes in many forms. Financial, relational, space traffic and wear and tear, even the number of parking places your church has may come into play this weekend. The most important capital would be the attendance of your members and guests. You need to know your available resources. Additionally, churches should study their giving history for 3 years to know the giving trends. Every congregation has a funding footprint, usually slower in the summer and largest giving in the last 60 days of the year. Plan accordingly. Don’t beat up your faithful church during low tide of giving when it is the regular giving cycle. Celebrate mission and small victories all year long through at least quarterly giving statements. Transparency and trust in all things, ESPECIALLY FINANCES.
Special footnote for clergy: Many of you tell us none of this is your spiritual gift. You preach and teach and vision and articulate justice issues. Good for you. But organizational life and both the sustaining of your congregation and the protection of the church during moments when these assets are compromised require you and your leadership to know and then respond or adjust, and if not your gift, you must have someone you trust help do that for you. The administering of these are foundational for the ministry you hope to accomplish. We’ve consulted with several congregations who had a long history of spiritual and missional significance that fell on hard times when they did not equally monitor, strategize and utilize these key areas. Do you plan worship? How do you navigate the rhythm of the church year and in planning worship? Church growth and dynamic worship go hand in hand, considering coherence, synergy, and unity. It is a planning bandwagon that needs the preacher, too.
Don’t drive blindly.