How to Grow a Healthy Church

You know when a church is not healthy as an organization. You will identify things like:

  • Poor communication
  • Low morale
  • High conflict
  • Limited results
  • Foggy Vision

We know that healthy organizations reflect the opposite kind of list.

So far, this is not complicated.

But building a healthy organization is a challenging and complex task, that requires enormous effort and fierce focus.

The key to any healthy organization is based on the foundation of two things held in a cooperative tension.

  1. The senior leadership wakes up every day thinking about what’s best for the team.
  1. The team wakes up every day thinking about what’s best for the organization.

This is easy to comprehend and very difficult to achieve. There’s an obvious unspoken tension here. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, please absorb this same principle again, but this time in reverse. The tension becomes very clear.

  1. If the senior leadership wakes up every day, focusing only on the good of the organization, (hit the numbers, success at all costs, staff are expendable, etc.) the staff won’t want to stay there very long.
  1. If the team wakes up every day, focusing only on what’s good for them, (what do I get?, what will you do for me today?, make my load lighter, etc.) the senior leadership won’t want them to stay very long.

The tension is obvious.

And this is why healthy organizations, including churches, are rarer than we would expect.

The tension held in these two principles only works when based on trust, and fails when either one attempts to take more than it gives.

I’ve never seen an organization pull this off without tremendous effort and commitment.

Here’s what it looks like to accomplish healthy organizational results, acknowledging the need to tend to both sides of the equation.

  1. The senior leaders invest tremendous effort and energy into thinking about how to invest in, care for, and develop the staff. While at the same time, paying fierce attention to their fiduciary responsibilities to lead the organization well.
  1. The team invests tremendous effort and energy into producing mission-focused results for the organization. While at the same time, paying attention to their own needs, dreams, and desires.

You can see why I call this a “cooperative tension.” The minute cooperation and trust breakdown, this doesn’t work, and organizational health begins to erode.

It’s a lot like a marriage.

It’s easy to repeat the vows, and hard to live them out.

If a husband devotes himself to serve his wife, and his wife devotes herself to serve the husband – guaranteed marital bliss! Piece of cake, right?! Of course not, it’s extremely challenging and takes tons of work and commitment.

If you wake up asking “What’s in it for me?” and “What do I get?”, your marriage will be, at best, a disappointing relationship.

Leadership in your church, especially among the staff and key leaders, is much the same.

So, if you are the senior pastor or on the senior/executive staff, how hard do you work to make sure the team is taken care of, while you lead the organization well?

If you are on the team, how hard do you work to deliver results that help the organization (church) make progress, while you remain honest about your own dreams and desires?

The powerful truth is that you get to decide how healthy your organization becomes.

It’s up to you.


Want to know more about developing a healthy organization? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Dan.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.