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Evaluating Your Systems

In his training book, Next Steps for Leading a Missional Church, Gary Rohrmayer says, “You need systems which are reproducible and interconnected processes; by which your church actualizes and achieves its mission.”  Your values drive your practices and your practices determine your results.  You need to ask if your systems are producing what you want them to produce.  Honest evaluation is needed.  Is your leadership development system producing the leaders you expected?  Is your evangelism system producing converts?

Our body has systems such as circulatory, nervous, and respiratory.  If one system fails we can find ourselves in quite a predicament.  When our systems function well we call ourselves healthy! Each system has an essential task to complete in a specific manner so that the rest of the body can continue to function properly.  The systems rely and depend on one another.  That is why church systems are so important because they put the essential processes in place that will help your church remain healthy and give it the ability to multiply.

  • You need to ask if the system you have built is reproducible.  Can it be easily understood and implemented?  Is it confusing to figure out and follow?  How does the system contribute to the reproductive nature of the church?
  • You should ask if the systems are interconnected.  How does the system connect with the rest of the systems needed?  Does it compliment and help the other systems?  Are the systems mutually benefiting the other systems through healthy cooperation?  The healthier the system the healthier the church will be.

            Do you have systems in place that provide a clear pathway for involvement and personal growth?  When you are developing systems you need to think through these steps.

  1. You need to consider mission outcomes.  What results are you looking to achieve?
  2. Consider how it assists in ministry flow?  What are the steps needed to achieve those results?
  3. Does it fit in your organizational structure?  Who will ensure that those results are being achieved?  Who is responsible to make this happen and have they been adequately trained?
  4. Think through a clear communication flow.  How will you cast vision in a way that keeps people informed and involved as you achieve your goal?
  5. Then you need to be able to start charting your course.  How will you keep your structures effective?  There must be constant evaluation and check-up! Remember, your systems are meant to actualize and achieve your church’s mission.  Are they?  This is the importance of taking the time to work on your ministry not just in your ministry.  Plan your Work and then Work your Plan!

Build margin into your ministry for reflection and application.  Evaluating your church systems requires asking great question about all of your systems whether that is assimilation, outreach
, finance, worship planning, or discipleship.

  • Do you have a functioning system for those areas and ministries?
  • What parts of each system are working well?
  • What new parts of each system would you like to implement?
  • Who will you ask to help you with each system?
  • As you evaluate you are always asking; what needs to be done and who needs to do it?

Make sure you also decide:

  • What pieces of each system will you upgrade in the next 3-4 months?
  • What do you hope to accomplish within the next 6 months?
  • Then think through realistically what it will take 12-18 months to implement.

 

This process will move forward when you have a leadership team in place that understands what needs to be done, who is going to get it done and when it needs to be done by.  Two of the greatest dangers of any ministry is first an unwillingness to evaluate and secondly, an unwillingness to utilize and implement what you discovered in the process.

When evaluating systems here are three things to think through to help in this process of actualizing and achieving your church’s mission.

  1. It will require an assessment.  If you are taking a look at your outreach system you must be able to describe its current condition.  What are your strengths and weaknesses in your present outreach system?  Assessment requires figuring out what needs to change, why, and how.  Second, it will require envisioning an implementation plan.  Transformation begins with defining your present reality.
  2. You must envision your preferred future so you can then develop steps to get there.  That is what a system does by providing a clear process.  You begin to think through 3-5 changes you can make in the next 90 days that will make a difference in your outreach system.  You must also decide how committed you are to making those changes.  On a scale of 1-10 how important is the change to you and are you willing to pay the price to make sure there is a change?  DCPI says if you are inclined to rate it less than a seven then it probably will not change.
  3. Then for change to occur begin setting goals. These are specific goals you believe are strategic and necessary for moving your church forward and becoming more effective.  These goals must be specific, attainable, and time sensitive.  What is the deadline for these goals to be implemented and who is responsible and accountable for them to actually happen?  Here is something to never forget about vision and seeing it become a reality:  Avision written down on paper does not ensure that it is accomplished – people do!

Effective churches utilize systems to carry out the vision that God has given them.  You need a team approach that helps encourage quality through careful and prayerful evaluation.  Do your practices confirm what you say your values are?  Values drive our practices and our practices determine out results!

Paradigm Shifts

paradigm-shift-pic

Today you hear a lot about the need for change or a “paradigm shift.”  Those who love new things and experimenting love this concept while others are not so sure.  A paradigm is defined as a typical example or pattern of something; a model.  A paradigm “shift” has been defined as a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions and a ​time when the ​usual and ​accepted way of doing or ​thinking about something ​changes ​completely.

Truth never changes but there are times we must evaluate assumptions, perceptions, and the way we are carrying out the Great Commission.  A paradigm shift is needed when the rules of the game change.  This is why Paul was so masterful in how he handled the Greeks, Romans,  Jews, and the Judaizers.  You see, a paradigm defines reality for the situation we are in and we must be aware of our audience and of the culture in which we are ministering.

This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

Paradigm shifts can correct past problems but they are not a fix all.  The reality is that new problems will arise.  Great paradigm shifts are occurring in churches, denominations, and in leadership.  These are usually needed because of momentum created by a certain focus that causes the pendulum to swing too far one way or the other.  One paradigm shift that should be applauded by all is in evangelism.  The goal has shifted away from scoring a decision to securing a disciple!

In Revolution in Leadership, Reggie McNeal says, “Paradigms inform both vision and values in people and in organizations.  They drive actions as well as influence attitudes.”  Paradigm shifts help us to refocus and to place the importance back where it needs to be because somewhere along the way we drifted.  This is why Reggie McNeal also says, “God has given each denominational system the freedom to become completely irrelevant or to be a relevant servant of the churches.”  Just remember “perception becomes reality.”

This is why our office has stressed so strongly, “Churches do not exist to serve us but we exist to serve churches and help you carry out the Great Commission.”  The center of the mission of God is the local church (Eph.3:10).  There are a couple of paradigm shifts here that are occurring:

  • From a church has a mission to God’s mission has a church to carry it out!
  • From missions driven by an office or organization to missions driven by a local church!
  • From the mission field being “over there” to we live in a mission field!
  • From we will send our money to accomplish missions to we will also get personally involved!
  • From planting churches to planting churches that plant churches!

Never fear, there is still plenty of work for us to do in coming alongside churches to help them develop their missionaries through assessment, training, and coaching.  Also, we have a network that enables everyone to help financially in getting missionaries and church planters to the field.

Churches are also going through paradigm shifts:

  • From being inwardly focused to becoming outwardly focused!
  • From being performance focused to concentrating on developing disciples!
  • From busyness and frenetic activity to spiritual health and vitality!
  • From one doing everything to the team being trained to do the work of the ministry!
  • From seating capacity to sending capacity!

What paradigm shifts might you or your church need to consider?  How well are people progressing in their spiritual walks?  Are you making disciples who are making disciples?  Is your church behaving like the body of Christ is supposed to behave?  What are the easiest changes you could make to get back on the right path?

The two biggest mistakes many churches make is, first, an unwillingness to evaluate their spiritual health.  The problem is that we know how to count but we do not know how to measure.  The second is this, an unwillingness to take the necessary steps the evaluation uncovers.  Once we discover our errors we must first repent and then begin to take the necessary steps for our behavior to change.

Healthy churches are willing to embrace paradigm shifts that are directed by the Holy Spirit!

Blind Spots – We All Need Outside Eyes

Blind Spots

     Everybody has a blind spot!  While riding in a friend’s rental car the other day I noticed that this particular model had quite a blind spot and made it difficult to see cars when changing lanes.  All vehicles do, even though some people still refuse to turn their neck and double check, and you must be careful to make sure you do not hit someone.  There are also blind spots in our lives that seemingly we do not see what can be very apparent to others.  It is a good thing to have another set of eyes to help us see things that otherwise would go unnoticed. 

     In a recent article When You Church is in a Slump Thom Rainer talks about the need for a church to seek the advice of a leader from outside your church.  He says, “Sometimes that person was the pastor of another church.  On other occasions it was a denominational leader or a church consultant. “  Outside eyes can see what maybe you can easily overlook and notice situations we have become desensitized to over time.  This is why golfers have coaches who watch their golf swing and analyze their mechanics.  They film it, slow it down frame by frame, and study the film to help their client perform at their best.

     There is a tool called the Johari Window that reminds us of the need for outside eyes because of the blind spots we all have.  There are four quadrants in this tool that describe what you and others know or do not know about yourself:

  • First, there is what is OPEN to all. This is what you know about yourself and what others know about you.
  • Second, the opposite of what is open to all is the UNKNOWN This is what you do not know about yourself and others do not know it either.
  • Third, is that which is HIDDEN in your life. It is known to you but it is not known to others.  This is who you are when no one else is watching.
  • Lastly, is the BLIND SPOT! Others know this about you or observe it but you have no self-awareness in this particular area.   

The real key is making the Blind Spot and Unknown areas smaller by becoming more self-aware and by maturing in Christ.  I Cor. 13:12 says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

     Churches have blind spots also.  This is why Rainer challenges a church to get someone from the outside to help determine their current reality!  We all know that sometimes we cannot see the “trees for the forest!”  Churches can deceive themselves!  Rev 3:17 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”  The church at Laodecia clearly had a blind spot!   The first step to a “preferred future” is a clear prognosis of your “present reality.”  

     How do you uncover blind spots in your life and in your church?

  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you what He wants you to see! (Psa 139:23-24)
  • Meet with your church’s leadership to evaluate your effectiveness! (Acts 14:26-27)
  • Don’t be scarred of, or offended by, constructive criticism! (Gal 4:16)
  • Find a Coach/Mentor who will challenge you and be honest with you! (Ecc 4:9-10)
  • Join a mentoring group where you can learn and encourage one another! (Pro 24:6)
  • Get together with several pastors and talk about what is working and what is not working in your churches! (Acts 21:18-19)
  • Use a survey tool for your membership to evaluate how healthy they believe your church is right now!
  • Compare your perspective with the perspective of your leadership and membership!
  • Research what other churches have done to turn their ministries around. Don’t compare or copy but learn from them.   Keep a teachable spirit.
  • Bring a coach/church consultant to help you uncover blind spots in your ministry! Someone who has been equipped to guide you towards a “preferred future.”

     Recently, another friend said this to me, “Larry you can’t see the blind spot in your life right now but here it is!”  He then described the situation and why this blind spot had developed.  Was it uncomfortable?  Yes!  Was he right?  Yes!  Was it helpful?  Absolutlely!  

     Healthy Christians and healthy churches invite others into their lives and their ministries to help them discover any blind spots they might have.  They are not afraid of outside eyes!!!