How Does it Fit Together?
I have recently been on holiday to France. I am not one who usually likes making puzzles but on this occasion I joined in.
It got me thinking about how an organisation (or in my case a church / ministry) fits together and how obvious or mysterious we make this to those we serve.
FunctionFirstly I want to consider how my church functions. Is it clear who is I charge and in what ways things are done? If I have a problem who do I speak to? If there is a question, who do I ask? Who is responsible for booking the hall or arranging for the key to be collected?
This also includes a lot of behind-the-scenes leadership elements such as policies, rotas etc. The cogs that fit and work together to help the whole organism work and function.
It might be helpful to create a flow chart that clearly shows who is in charge of what - a visual representation of how the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together and relate to one another.
Task Descriptions for volunteers or Job Descriptions for employees can also be very useful. They let the person know exactly what is expected of them before they volunteer or apply for the job. What about training? Who will deliver it? When will it happen?
Does the church have any affiliations or associations beyond itself? Is it held to account by anyone? If so, how many people in the church know that this is the case?
I am planning on creating a welcome event for those new to church. At this event we will speak about how the church functions as well as signposting clear 'next steps'. We will share the vision and mission of the church so people know where we are going and where we would like to take them if they come aboard with us. We will give them some literature about what our church believes, just so we are clear from the start. We will also hope to describe and model the culture of our church - as this will help to mould it. We will talk about what church membership looks like and means to us and how they can get involved if they want to - basically we will be setting out the blueprint of who and what our church is describing how it works and inviting people to join in.
The puzzle is a useful metaphor. If you are involved in the planning and leadership of an organisation you quite often get to see the bigger picture. You can access the picture on the box of the puzzle and know pretty much where the certain pieces belong and how it all fits together. For someone just joining you it is as though they have arrived, been given a single piece of the puzzle and asked to put it in the big picture without knowing what the big picture is. This can lead to frustration and can be very puzzling - especially if no one comes along side the newcomer to help them find where their piece fits in or indeed shows them what the big picture is to enable them to discover where their piece fits for themselves.
I know that if I was looking to join a church I would want to know what it believes and how it functions before I signed up!
FlowOn my holiday we visited a great aquarium called 'Nausica'. This place is huge and it was packed! One thing that struck me was how well designed it was in terms of 'flow'. A great deal of time, effort and money had gone into planning the journey of the visitor, making it obvious where to go next. Not only were we given a map, saw lots of arrows and signs on the walls, the very architecture and layout of the various rooms directed and channeled you on towards the next exhibit. Having said this there was some flexibility in the design too. You could skip certain parts if you wanted or you could go straight to zone 10 to watch the sharks being fed at a certain time, then go back to where you left off to continue the journey.
Have you thought about the flow of your church / organisation?
How easy is it for someone to get from A to B?
How well signposted are your 'next steps'? These may not necessarily be physical signposts, they could just be verbal queues or are mentioned quite obviously and clearly on your website and literature, or you may actually need a physical signpost (or roller banner) highlighting the next step along the journey of your church. This ideally should line up with your vision and mission statements - what you hope the outcome of attending your church will be - 'the what'. This process of guiding people through to the next stage of their journey is 'the how'. How you are helping and supporting them to ultimately achieve or attain the vision.
The puzzle also reminds me about how important it is for someone to know how they 'fit' within your church / organisation. Each piece of the puzzle is unique. Each and every person has a place and a role to play. Sometimes knowing what this is can be confusing. By helping people understand the function of your organisation and by creating an obvious and effective flow from 'entry' on through the 'next steps' this should give every person a good idea as to where their piece fits in the big picture of your organisation. Belonging is a basic human need and is one which the community of the church is best suited to fill.