In Part One we noted that every member of the church is responsible for the mission of the church, but the ministers are the only ones being evaluated in terms of job performance. The suggestion was to move away from job performance evaluations and to move toward a focus on ministry planning and review. We also pointed out that the church is an entire system at work. So how can we activate the entire church system to ministry planning and review with inherent accountability and proactive mission?
A practical way to do this may already be right under our noses. What if the Church Council or a Missions Council became the spearhead of the church’s mission under pastoral leadership? What if business meetings became celebrations of what God is doing in and through the church on mission?
Every Church Council I have encountered, if they meet at all, only does calendar planning. I have found that church organizational structure has been in such neglect for so long that many people do not even know their job descriptions, and do not know they are supposed to give a report to the church business meeting, and definitely do not have a vision of how their piece of the puzzle makes a life-giving contribution to the mission of the church. Church business meetings have become so perfunctory, that they are boring or controversial, with no sense of the movement of God on mission, that they are very poorly attended.
Church Councils, however, are made up of the directors of the major ministries of the church and chairs of committees. Each church has its own variation of who constitutes the Church Council, but for the most part it is already a readymade group, authorized by the church to lead the ministry of the church.
A Ministry Planning Review could occur on a regular basis, by having the pastor and staff ministers present their ministry goals, determined through prayer, for the next three months, in consultation with the other leaders present, and review what has occurred for the past three months. Each ministry leader follows suit by presenting their ministry plans for the next three months and review what has occurred in the past three months. The ministry plans and reviews would inherently create accountability on the part of all church leaders to the mission of the church.
If the church has a good mission statement, which clearly captures what they believe God is calling the church to do, everyone’s plans would be guided by that statement and would contribute to fulfilling it, giving the entire church system a sense of cohesiveness for the church’s mission.
In one of my previous Intentional Interim experiences, the church took this concept even a step further. They shifted their organizational structure from committees to ministry teams oriented around people’s spiritual gifts. The Church Council became the Ministry Coordinating Council. Indeed, it was discovered that some persons on the Council did not know their job descriptions, nor that they were to give reports at the business meeting. Attention was paid to this with a grateful response from those persons.
Each Ministry Coordinating Council meeting, which occurred quarterly, begins with a time of worship and prayer for the ministry of the church. After this time of worship, the following three questions were asked in every meeting:
- What have you seen God doing in your area of ministry in the last three months?
- What is God calling you to do in the next three months?
- What support do you need from the church to accomplish your goals?
The Ministry Coordinating Council was instructed to give their reports in business meeting from the same perspective of what they had seen God doing and what God was calling them to do.
Business meetings in this church were typical. They were poorly attended, and when the moderator would call for reports, most people were not even present to give them, resulting in only three or four reports being given. Those reports were usually quite boring, consisting of attendance numbers and calendar events.
Once the new configuration was in place, the next business had 14 persons giving reports with a sense of mission and celebration of what God was doing. People left the meeting saying they had no idea of all the ministry our church was doing. It was exciting to see the difference.
Would you like to have a conversation about implementing this concept in your church?