Transformational growth in your congregation heats up when every stakeholder is invited to make tangible contributions, every month, to the mission. To make meaningful contributions, people need to know the big picture, the plan for moving forward, and the personal contributions they can make in the next 30-90 days to help fulfill the mission. Most people are “sprinters” rather than “marathoners” and prefer short-term commitments that can be completed in less than five hours.
Below I’ve listed three pathways for engaging members in ministry to effect transformational Growth. Path 1 is primarily for “marathoners.” Paths 2 and 3 are primarily for “sprinters.” Avoid the mindset of filling slots based on the needs of your organization. Instead, focus on helping people fulfill their calling…
PATH 1 | Invite people who like to DREAM, DECIDE and DELEGATE to participate in COMMITTEES.
- Committees focus on purpose, priorities (values & goals) and policies—they spend time dreaming, deciding, delegating, communicating, and collaborating.
- Committees create plans that align the congregation’s assets, actions, and conversations with its purpose and priorities.
- Committees may meet monthly, every other month, or on a quarterly basis. It’s assumed that team members will tay in touch and monitor plans and action steps between meetings via Zoom, conference calls, email, and/or a Facebook group.
- Although committees oversee ministry, it doesn’t mean they do all of the work. They delegate the ministries’ work to project coordinators and to task forces. Committees are still responsible for paying attention to the results of the ministry but usually aren’t involved in the day-to-day ministry operations.
- Every committee should have a road map for moving forward. If this is a board, it could be a strategic plan. If it’s a Faith Formation Team, it could be a comprehensive plan for lifelong faith formation, and if it’s a youth ministry team, it could be a 3- to 4-year ministry plan—one for middle school and one for high school ministry.
PATH 2 | Use TASK FORCES and PROJECT TEAMS to coordinate short-term projects and events.
- They are typically 4-7 people in size and the majority are lay and non-staff leaders. The pastor should not serve as chair.
- They usually gather 4-6 times a year.
- They stay in touch with each other between meetings through texting, emailing, Zoom, or Facebook groups.
- Commission task forces during worship when their term of service begins.
- Examples of task forces or project teams include coordinating Vacation Bible School, leading a mission trip, planning an adventure trip, creating a facilities renovation team, conducting a congregational survey, redesigning a website, creating a comprehensive communications plan, or conducting a year-end financial audit.
PATH 3 | Use PROJECT COORDINATORS rather than standing committees for ongoing projects.
- Not everyone has the time or the desire to work in team settings. Assign one or two individuals to oversee projects such as maintaining current rosters, creating promotional brochures, updating web pages, coordinating an event, serving as a mentor, sending birthday cards, making home visits to designated households, reviewing curriculum, overseeing the congregation’s social media page or Twitter postings, posting polls or caring-conversation questions on the church’s Facebook page, orienting newly-elected leaders about faith-formation principles and practices, serving as a liaison to ministry teams, coaching lay leaders, tracking goals, sharing faith stories, or taking pictures at events.
- Provide project coordinators with sufficient training and support to maximize their impact.
- Three suggestions for Supporting Project Team, Task Forces and Project Coordinators…
1. Assign a coach or contact person for each task force, project team, or project coordinator.
2. Give every team and person a written ministry description; review it with them line by line.
3. Check in with them at least monthly. Ask: “How are things going? What are you learning? What’s energizing and/or life draining about this work? How could this program/project be improved? and “What support would you find helpful?”
Jim LaDoux is the longtime Director of Coaching Services for Vibrant Faith. Jim lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife—he has two adult sons. He’s been a coach since 1992, and has a Master of Management Arts and is a certified PCC (Professional Certified Coach).