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.


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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.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
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