Rebuilding the Machine

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the Lewis_Hine_Power_house_mechanic_working_on_steam_pumpbreaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, ESV) 

Not to sound too mechanical, but when a congregation is on mission it runs like a well-oiled machine. Things happen organically.  The Holy Spirit uses the gifts of each member to meet the needs of the world.  When that happens the Kingdom is built and glimpses of the resurrected creation poke through.

After we decided to relaunch Crosspointe in God’s direction, the first thing we had to tackle (after attitude, see previous post) was how we got things done.  The DNA of the body had been mutated, and so the inner-workings needed to be tweaked.

As I wrote about earlier, we switched our focus from church people to unchurched people.  That required us to look at the whole ecclesiology (leadership/ministry structure) of Crosspointe from top to bottom.  When we laid out every ministry that we were involved in we found something incredibly frustrating:

Most of our ministries weren’t actually doing anything.

Some hadn’t functioned in years.  They still occupied a line in the budget.  They still were broadcast that we did that particular ministry, but it was actually dead.  We had thirty-two ministries led by people who hadn’t attended here in years.  We did some spring cleaning and decided on a more people-focused approach.

Here’s what we did:  We took everything we did and came up with six areas.  We call these our FOCUS POINTES.  We took everything we’d done over our sixty-year history and threw out anything that didn’t reach unchurched people.  We found, through research, current results, and members, the five areas that Crosspointe was doing really well – and we cut off everything else. We added one more, MERGE POINTE groups, which is our version of small groups that didn’t exist) Here are the areas we came up with:

6 Focus Pointes:

  • Facilities
  • Sunday Morning
  • Merge Pointe (small group)
  • Community Engagement
  • Youth
  • Children’s

To be clear, each of these has sub-categories, but instead of being spread out, operating with no guidance or accountability, we brought them under one umbrella.  We had the deacons move from just kind of “floating” in some instances, to being the heads of the teams made up of members who wanted to serve on that particular team.

Each FOCUS POINTE team has a meeting quarterly (at least) to make sure goals set (initially in these first two years by the shepherds) were being accomplished.  Each leader of the FOCUS POINTE meets twice a year to give an update, ask for solution, tweak the operations, and provide accountability.  Here’s the key to the whole thing that we’d been missing:

Accountability.

We had people signing up for things and then not showing up.  We had folks “calling off” an hour before on our Facebook Page.  We had needs go out and no one responding.  Let me be clear here:  you can hold volunteers accountable.  We often operate under the idea that if we say something, they don’t volunteer anymore, or they’ll leave.  Let me say two things to that:

  1. No. They will continue to volunteer if AND ONLY if you communicate clearly the expectations, and provide the tools and resources for them to accomplish it. If you provide all that, but fail to make sure the task is being accomplished, you create an environment where “somebody else will do it.”
  2. Yes, they may leave.  I’ve found, and I’m not being callous or hard-hearted, that if they do leave, their heart left a long time ago.  If someone is offended by you making sure they do the thing in which they committed to doing, they have a problem, not you.

What usually happens is that 20% of the people in your church are doing 80% of the work.  You might find your volunteers are burning out, and then leaving.  That’s what happened here.  I think this happens for one reason:

We don’t put spiritually mature people in charge of things.

A church usually jumps at the idea that somebody wants to volunteer to teach, serve, head up an event, and we usually let anyone do it!  That’s not a bad thing, per say.

What is bad, is not looking at the fruit the tree is growing.  If the person leading your ministry is accomplishing goals, but outside of “church” they have no integrity, there is a problem.  I’m definitely not saying our people don’t possess integrity.  I am saying that a lot of churches put people over things who should be growing first. We had been guilty of that is well.

When you couple lack of accountability with spiritually immature leaders, you will always miss the mark.  As a result, the key 10-30 people will always end up having to do everything.  They will burn out.  They will leave.  Your congregation will shrink.  It might even die.

I know this from experience.  The thing is, as I write this, while we have seen dramatic improvements in this area, but we still have the same problems.  

People get mad when they are held accountable and they take their ball and go home.  They quit mid-project because it wasn’t being done “their way.”  Some of our people refuse to participate at all.  Some actively disparage what God is doing and gossip and gripe.  I used to get mad about it…but now it just makes me feel sad for the folks who operate like that.  What must be going on in their lives to create such selfishness and bitterness?  So instead, I acknowledge the hurt, and then I pray for them.  That’s all I can do.

I’m not sure any congregation will ever totally be free from this because – Satan – but, accountability, teams, and spiritual maturity lead to a better chance at success. Making sure you hone your focus on the things you do well will help.  Do those things better, keep striving, and always be willing to adjust the approach.

We’re definitely not there yet.  Getting a large group of people who aren’t used to a “team-based” system to work together isn’t easy.  The only thing that we’ve found to make it easier is accountability.  We must set specific goals on our end, and work with each FOCUS POINTE to make sure it is accomplished.

I hope this helps you.  I’m blessed to serve the greatest congregation on the planet.  I love them (even the ones who don’t like me), and I see so much improvement.

Next post, we’ll look at our discipleship model.

God is great,

Scott

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