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4 Stages of Organizational Focus

A Different Organizational Focus Is Critical As Your Church Grows

Many of the churches we work with struggle with systems. The leaders may be passionate about the mission, but how that work gets done may be sloppy or ineffective. If that’s the case, it eventually leads to staff/volunteer burnout. Therefore, thinking smartly about developing healthy systems is a critical component for the life of the organization.

But with one caveat: if you’re in the front end of churchplanting or leading a fairly new and small church, it shouldn’t be your primary focus. After all, you’re mostly centered on gathering people and sheer survival; your systemic needs are much simpler at this point.

So just like people, your church will go through changes in focus as well. The typical foci of a church tend to look like this:

1. When a church is first planted, it’s primarily personality-centered; it’s all about the churchplanter—his or her ability to gather, the force of their personality, the sense of this-is-a-person-I-want-to-follow, and so forth. It means lots of lunch, breakfast and dinner meetings with potential followers who are probing the leader’s competency, calling and character.

2. Next, the church must move toward becoming mission-centered. This is critical: it has to grow beyond the planter’s personality and the mission must become bigger than him or her. Don’t get attendance necessarily mixed up with this—it’s not numbers-oriented; there are huge churches that are personality-centered and in deep danger…as well as small personality-cult churches.

3. As the church or organization gets more complex and multilayered, systems and processes become even more critical. Considerable effort must be made to ensure effective communication, productivity (or fruitfulness in Biblical terms), and departmental interdependency and engagement.

4. The last stage is franchising. For a church, this could mean launching a new churchplant, a satellite, an entrepreneurial ministry, a non-profit, a food pantry, or whatever. At this point, an organization has had enough experience to launch more holistic and reproducible endeavors. It’s necessary to launch new enterprises or even hive off for organizational health.

Q: What “focus-stage” is your church in…and is it the right one for where you are?

Dave Workman | Elemental Churches


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