One mark of a healthy church is that decisions can be made easily, and action can be set in motion once those decisions are made. Someone once said that the size of the policy manual is inversely related to the health of the church. The larger the manual, the less healthy the church may be. Not sure I agree with that fully, but what I do agree with is that effective structures can either make or break a church and its direction.
Effective Structures are one of the 8 key systems of a healthy church. Christian Schwarz's organization, Natural Church Development, defines Effective Structures as the systems and forms that allow ministry and leadership to develop as needed without unnecessary resistance. The polar opposite of Effective Structures is what Schwarz calls "traditionalism" which is the rut of doing things "the way we always did them because that is how we always did them."
Contrary to what some may think, form and structure can be life-giving. In the creation narrative, God gave the formless void structure as He spoke into existence the necessary elements of all creation. And, that created order is not only alive and a thing of amazing beauty, but it is adaptive and flexible as well. Churches can learn from this in order to be healthy.
The healthiest churches have effective structures and systems which are adequately defined but still agile and able to empower decision-making by leaders closest to the ministry area. Effective structures avoid the chaos of unclear communication and put in place vital processes eliminating road blocks and disunity. Making a commitment to develop healthy structures is a guaranteed way to stimulate growth and confront restrictive traditionalism.
7 Questions to help you assess your own structure's health:
Is my church tradition bound and unable to easily innovate?
Do leaders outside of the staff and leadership board have the freedom to make ministry decisions as needed without restrictive governing approval?
How hard is it to start a new ministry in the church and do all ministries have clear goals?
Does the church mission statement guide all of our ministries and do those ministries have a clear sense of how they connect to that mission?
Do my key ministry leaders regularly receive training AND care?
How clear is the organizational chart from governing board to staff to key ministry leaders? Is that organizational chart known by your congregation?
Do ministry leaders have a written job description that is annually reviewed to help guide their understanding of responsibility as a leader?
Ken Nabi, Regional President
Ken Nabi has served as the Regional President for Converge Great Lakes since 2016. He earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist before enjoying 21 years as a pastor at Community Church of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Ken is a strategic leader focusing on movements and reproducible systems. Community Church of Fond du Lac planted five churches during his tenure, and those churches helped plant seven more churches.