I am often accused (rightfully so) of mumbling.
My wife asks what the plan is for the first day of vacation.
I think I respond with: “After we get off of our flight to Denver, we drive to our condo in the mountains with no stopping because I want to get there before it gets dark.”
What she hears is: “Aff we giff fight to dinner, we dive our dough mountains with no stopping bis I want together four its ark.”
My brain often thinks faster than my mouth can move to communicate what I want to say. That is a problem if I want to communicate something.
Most ministries have the opposite problem. Their mouth moves faster than their brain. They communicate without having a clear idea of what they want to say. Their mission and vision are unclear. As a result, they communicate events, initiatives, and weekly news without considering how it fits into the big picture. For many churches, this is unintentional. It is the result of just “doing church” and not taking the time and energy to clearly define what their mission is to their community. With no central message to serve as a communications filter, a “shotgun” approach to communications develops.
Fire - Aim - Ready is a poor approach to communications.
You need to clearly define your mission (Ready) and your message to your community (Aim) before you attempt to communicate your message (Fire).
You know from experience that bombarding people with numerous unrelated announcements is not effective. People tune you out. Our brains are wired to tune out random, irrelevant information. We need context for things to make sense and our brains to make them a priority. It is an effective survival skill, but a challenge for communicators.
In January 2017 Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world. His presentation lasted over an hour and a half and was full of technical information about a product no one had seen. A difficult task. He was able to introduce the product effectively by anchoring all that he said around one simple message: "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone," Jobs proclaimed. That was the message of the day. It was the headline that anchored all of the information that he communicated. He repeated that exact phrase five times during his presentation. Apple’s press releases that day contained the same headline. The banner on their website displayed that same text. Their subsequent commercials focus on how Apple was reinventing the phone.
The message mattered, not just the product.
What is the one message that you want people to hear and know about your church?
What does your ministry want to be known for?
Our church connects people in our community to Jesus.
Our church helps the poor.
Our church cares.
Our church is focused on young people.
Our church is focused on old people.
We are a traditional church.
We are a modern church.
We wear skinny jeans here. :)
Our Christian school has excellent academics
Our Christian school will teach your kid about Jesus.
Our Christian school is a place to belong.
Our Christian school is safe.
Before you decide what gets communicated and how you are going to communicate, you need to determine what you are going to communicate. Read that last sentence again. It is important.
What are you communicating?
You should be communicating things that advance your core message.
Need help figuring all this out? Let’s talk about it.
In my last post, I mentioned that impracticality and people are the two big problems with Policy-based governance in churches.
As it turns out, I overlooked another serious problem: a lack of resources.
Most pastors and board members struggle to find resources that apply policy-based governance to their local church.
Where can I find good policies?
Where do I look for sample agendas or reports?
You know that most of the stuff you find the web is meant for large corporations, not a local church.
I can help with practical resources!
I’ve created a simple ready to use pack of documents that integrate policy based-governance and the local church.
And I’m launching it today!
This resource pack includes both PDF and Editable versions of
- a full policy manual
- a ready to go monthly compliance report
- a monthly meeting agenda template
- an annual policy review calendar
You can download it today!
Perhaps you are an experienced leader in a ministry that (at least on paper) practices policy-based governance. Maybe your context is a more traditional model of leadership and you are curious about policy-based governance.
At its heart, the policy-based governance provides a framework for leadership for most mid to large-sized churches. Trust your leaders to lead - and make sure they are accountable.
In my experience with the policy-based governance model, I’ve come to realize that there are two major problems implementing it in a church.
1. It is often too rigid.
Most ministries copy and paste their model and specific policies from a non-profit corporation or a larger church who has existing policies in place. The problem? They are not your policies! The policies do not fit the context of your church and your people. They are likely “corporate” and are more than you need to lead your ministry effectively. Over complex policies lead to disengaged board members and leaders. If the real world purpose of each policy is not clear, your leaders will simply ignore it and it will remain buried in a binder. Rigid policies do not help your ministry grow.
You likely have well-intentioned servants who volunteer their time to serve on your leadership board. The local church would suffer if it were not for people like them. Your kind-hearted people also represent a barrier to effective policy-based governance. It is likely that they do not have the expertise, time, or motivation to immerse themselves in the theory or best practices of policy-based governance. As a result, they either revert to micro-managing the ministry or they become unengaged and serve as a “rubber stamp” for their senior leader. Your ministry needs more from them. Your lay leaders need to function as an effective policy-based board for the health of your ministry. They need help.
I have a passion for the mission of the local church and feel that most churches benefit from a policy-based approach to governance. I have developed a simple, budget-friendly training process for policy-based boards and leaders. Whether you are just starting out with policy-based governance or need a refresher, some outside help might be beneficial for you and your ministry.
In my training, your board members will learn the basics of policy-based governance in the church, their role as a board member, and we will construct your policy manual!
Interested in learning more? You have three options: