In response to the question “Why do most churches stay small?”, Darrin Patrick said:
“Largely because most pastors don't know how to build systems, structures, and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don't build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually, but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development. When a pastor can't build systems and structures that support ministry, the only people who are cared for or empowered to lead are those who are “near” the pastor or those very close to the pastor. This limits the size of the church to the size of the pastor.”
Let's take a unfortunate but common example – someone hasn't been at church for a number of weeks. In this scenario at your church:
- How long does it take for their absence to be noticed?
- How does their absence get noticed?
- Who follows up to check they're ok?
- What is the role of the pastor in this process? Of the small group leader? Of other leaders?
If it is up to the pastor to keep track of who has and hasn't been at church, the growth of the church will be limited to the number of people the pastor/s can keep track of.
This is one reason why churches systems and processes (‘Saves You Time, Stress and Money‘) are important. They are also a means of loving people, and will feed back into the overall health of the church.
Below are 25 common scenarios in church life (I've experienced them all!) that you could discuss with the leaders in your church to design some systems and processes (or formalise what's already happening).
As you discuss these scenarios, you might like to consider:
- What is the role of pastor, small group leaders, team leaders?
- Who is the first point of contact in this scenario?
- Who is expected to initiate in this scenario?
- Who is expected to follow up in this scenario?
- Who needs to be consulted in this scenario?
- Who has authority to make the final decision in this scenario?
- Who is responsible for ensuring it doesn't get to crisis point?
- What tools (e.g. Elvanto, Process Street, Lucidchart) will we use to help us in this scenario?
- How often will we review this system?
Scenarios for Church Systems and Processes
- A new person arrives at church.
- A family advises that they're leaving church.
- Someone wants to join a Bible study group.
- A Bible study group is bursting at the seams.
- There's no toilet paper in the bathroom.
- Financial giving isn't keeping up with the budget.
- An event was heavily promoted but the turnout was disappointing.
- More helpers are needed for crèche.
- Someone hasn't been at church 6 weeks.
- A new song is suggested for corporate worship.
- Someone complains about the number of songs, volume of music, style of music, position of hands, etc.
- The prayer prayed in church on Sunday was a bit off the mark.
- There's not enough leaders for Bible study groups.
- A family has a baby.
- A marriage is struggling.
- Someone becomes a Christian.
- Someone comes to you with a new idea.
- The rosters need to be filled, but not enough people have signed up to serve.
- A child arrives at Kids Church for the first time.
- Someone signs up to attend the Christianity Explored course.
- Someone emails the church with a question.
- A community group wants to hire the church facilities.
- Abuse or slander is posted to the church's Facebook page.
- A journalist calls looking for comment on a story.
- A ministry (e.g. the youth group) want to set up a social media account.