One of the core steps in the Unstuck church consulting process is a review of the staff and structure. We review overall health in the first step. Then we put together a strategic plan in the second step. Before we put that plan into action, we make sure the staff and structure will support ministry health and growth.
In all the years I’ve helped churches through this process, there are some common mistakes I see when it comes to structuring a staff team.
Here are 6 structure issues that often pop up during the review process:
The structure doesn’t reflect the strategy.
I recently wrote about how healthy churches focus on a path rather than programs. Healthy churches also build their staffing structure around that path.
Whenever our team works with a church, we help them to identify their “growth engines.” This helps to frame the strategy that drives both numerical and spiritual growth. The staff structure should support these growth engines. Form follows function. On the other hand, if you try to layer new strategy onto an old structure, the strategy will always fail.
Roles are filled without considering strengths.
At The Unstuck Group, we lean on Leading From Your Strengths for this. Every person has a unique wiring. When people function in roles that reflect that wiring, the team is healthier and the person is more fulfilled. That why it’s important to consider every person’s gifts, experiences and personalities.
As Jim Collins suggested, it’s both important to get the right people on the bus and also make sure they’re in the right seat.
People without leadership capacity are placed in leadership positions.
You can’t just determine whether or not someone has leadership gifts. You must also determine whether or not they have the appropriate leadership capacity for that position. With that, you need to consider where people are on the leadership pathway. Do they have the potential to lead tens, fifties, hundreds or thousands?
By the way, the best predictor of someone’s leadership capacity is to look at how they’ve performed in the past. Leadership capacity develops over time–it doesn’t just show up out of thin air.
Leadership at the top is not team-based.
Every organization is destined to struggle if there’s only one controlling “leader” at the top. Leadership happens in teams. That’s why every church of every size should have a structure that flows from a senior leadership team rather than just a senior leader.
You can read more about this philosophy in my eBook, Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.
Staff are “led” by committees rather than teams being led by staff.
There’s only one person on a church staff that should report to a board or a committee, and that’s the senior pastor. Every other person should only have one boss to make happy. Youth pastors shouldn’t have to report to youth committees. Worship pastors shouldn’t have to report to worship committees. Discipleship pastors shouldn’t report to discipleship committees.
Additionally, no lay ministries should stand on their own. Every ministry or program should be connected to the leadership team. This is another way to make sure the structure supports the strategy.
The staff team is not built for growth.
When our team completes a staffing and structure review for a church, we typically recommend a future structure that would support the ministry if it was twice its current size. Current structures and leadership capacity will get you the same results you’ve always achieved. It will take new structures and increased leadership capacity to achieve new, expanded results.
Healthy, growing churches plan before they build. That biblical approach works not only for the physical infrastructure, it also works for the people infrastructure that will eventually support future ministry expansion.
Does your church tend to get stuck in its structure? Is your team not really working as a team? Finding a structure that works for your church is not easy. We want to help position your staff team to best serve your church. If you don’t know where to start, check out our Staffing and Structure Review.