Having the Conversation We All Hate to Have

October 9, 2020

Restructuring is hard… but the alternative is much harder

I’m convinced that the last 6 months have forced most churches to make more than a decade’s worth of changes. Whether it was building out our online ministry platform, rethinking our ministry priorities, or learning how to do congregational care when we can’t sit across a table from one another, much has changed.

Now, six(ish) months in, we are at a point where it would serve us well to pause, survey our current landscape, and think through what the road ahead looks like for us. While our vision and mission are likely still the same, this is a good time to ask ourselves whether our current ministry structures continue to serve us well in this season. What do I mean by ministry structures? I’m glad you asked. Our ministry structures are those things that enable us to achieve the vision that God has given our congregation. For most churches, this means your budget, facilities, programming, and staffing.

Now is the time to stop and begin to ask yourself, and your team, the hard questions about your ministry structure and begin to evaluate whether your current structure is serving your vision… or forcing your vision to serve it. A few questions that might be helpful for you as you begin your evaluation process:

  • Budget: Based on what you have learned since January, does your current budget prioritize those areas of ministry that will be most important for your church’s vision in the next 6, 12, and 24 months? What areas require less funding now than they did at the beginning of the year?
  • Facilities: How has the pandemic affected the way that you currently use your building and what does that mean for the next 6, 12, and 24 months? Does your facility need to be upgraded in order to better achieve your mission?
  • Programming: What have you learned about the effectiveness of your current programming in this season? As you look to the future, what do you need to start, stop, and continue, program-wise, in order to more effectively share the Gospel with the world around you?
  • Staffing: As you look at your current team, do you see any gaps that need to be filled? Are there teammates that need to be redeployed into more strategic areas? Are there beloved team members that are no longer effective in their current role?

These questions can be intimidating to ask, especially when it comes to cutting budgets, eliminating programs, or encouraging teammates to find their next ministry position. Difficult though they may be, these are crucial conversations to have for the future of your ministry. Now is the optimal time to have this conversation, for three reasons:

  • Year-end is coming: From a timing standpoint, your church is likely to be preparing your 2021 budget. These conversations will give you clarity on what that should look like.
  • Change is still new: The changes made over these last six(ish) months are still new. The concrete has not set and you have an opportunity to evaluate what changes are worthy of keeping and which are not.
  • It will happen: Restructuring is going to happen one way or another… it is in the best interest of your church to proactively choose when to have the conversation instead of waiting for it to be forced upon you.

The hardest part of these conversations is knowing where to start. If that is your struggle, the team at Chemistry Staffing has created a tool to help you navigate this process: Chemistry Staffing’s Restructuring Playbook. This playbook will walk you and your team through a series of tools that I use with our churches when helping them think through what structure best serves their ministry. I hope that it will serve you well.

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3 Comments

  • Wiatt Warren says on

    These are all important areas for reconsideration in response to the events of the last six(ish) months. Another arena of concern is church polity. Some congregations who have been committee driven or who need to vote on every decision have found themselves frozen and unable to move quickly in response to the situation. This may be a time to move away from committees and allow the church leadership to lead with less restrictions.

    • Good point! That is definitely a structural conversation that needs to be had. Tread carefully, but boldly!

    • Wiatt, you raise an excellent point. Our church “was” traditionally committee driven. However, with the absence of business meetings, myself and our deacons have made major decisions concerning the pandemic requirements of “doing church” in new ways. I told my congregation this morning that we’ve changed the service times three times and all without a committee or a vote. These are certainly different times.