Tag Archive - rights

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How to Speed up Decision Making at your Church

After working with over 25 churches across the country this past year, I realized there is a common challenge that growing churches face. It’s a challenge that frustrates leaders, slows progress in critical areas, and causes an undercurrent of strain between teammates. This challenge is lack of clarity around decision making. When churches are small, and there are a few leaders who lead the church, it’s pretty clear who makes what calls. But as churches grow and more leaders are added to the team, it’s not long before confusion sets in around “Who gets to make what decisions”. Often all decisions start to feel like we have to have total consensus to move on anything. Did I mention frustration sets in?

About 5 years ago the fog lifted for me. On a team retreat, our Executive team had the privilege of working with Jim Dethmer, Co-Founder of Conscious Leadership Group. He walked us though an exercise called Decision Rights. He said before a decision can be made, the team has to first decide how the decision will be made. Who holds the decision rights?

The chart below illustrates the 7 ways decisions can be made. The two variables to keep in mind are the amount of time it takes to make a decision and the level of buy-in it generates.

7 Levels of Decision Rights

  1. Leader Decides: This is the quickest way to make a decision because no other input is required in the decision making. A leader is simply appointed to make the decision. Buy-in is often very low at this level.
  2. Leader Decides with Input: A leader is appointed to make the decision, but is also instructed to get input from others prior to making the decision. Because other voices are in the mix, there is an increased level of buy-in.
  3. *Sub-Group decides: A small team or a sub-group is tasked with making the decision.
  4. *Sub Group decides with Input: The sub-group makes the decision after getting input from others.
  5. Majority Vote: Just like it sounds, once options have been discussed, whichever option gets the most votes wins.
  6. Consensus: Consensus is reached once all team members involved in making the decision are no longer opposed or are neutral towards the option that’s been laid out.
  7. Alignment: Different from consensus, alignment requires that all team members are in total agreement that it’s the right decision.

* For’ Sub-Group’ and ‘Sub-Group’ decides with Input – the sub-group still needs to determine how they will make the decision (Majority Vote, Consensus or Alignment)

Here’s a practical example of how this works. Let’s say your church is out of space on Sunday morning. Your two services are full, and you know you need to launch a 3rd service in the fall. How will, and who will, make that decision? Here are the options:

  1. Leader Decides: You appoint a leadership team member to make the call. It takes very little time to make the decision, but also creates very little buy-in. There will most likely be a lot push-back and complaining from the team members that have to rally their teams to accommodate this decision.
  2. Leader Decides with Input: You appoint a leader to make the decision, but require them to go and talk to the key ministry leaders that will be impacted by whatever decision is made. While not adding a lot of time in the decision-making process, the leader has more wisdom in making the best decision, and a little more buy-in is created.
  3. Sub-Group decides: You appoint the heads of worship, ministry, and operations to make the decision. You feel they know their areas and will make the best decision with the time you have to make the decision.
  4. Sub Group decides with Input: Same as above, but you add time and potential buy-in to the process by requiring them to get input from all of their team leads.
  5. Majority Vote: The leadership team brainstorms all of the options, narrows it to three, and then you take a vote. The option with the most votes wins. (By the way, Majority Vote can be good for a lunch decision like “Chipotle or Chick-fil-A” – but not much else.)
  6. Consensus: All of the options are vetted by the team and then each team member gets a vote – opposed, neutral, favorable. Our team did it this way. Once the options were narrowed down, and there appeared to be a leaning towards the best service time, we would do a rock-paper-scissors style vote. On the count of three, we would put each put out the number of fingers that represented our perspective. 1 finger=opposed, 2 fingers= still opposed, but less strongly, 3 fingers= neutral, 4 fingers= favorable with a few remaining concerns, 5 fingers= very favorable. Once we were all at a 3 or above, we had “consensus”.
  7. Alignment: Drawing from the last illustration, everyone on the team puts out 5 fingers. One 4 – and you do not have alignment.

3 Key Learnings as our team adopted the Decision Rights model:

  1. Not every decision warrants consensus. Different types of decisions warrant different types of decision rights. By thinking through what level of buy-in is needed and how much time you have to make a decision, this allows the right level of decision making.
  2. You can strive for consensus, but can also have a back-up plan. In this example of adding a service time, you can shoot for consensus, but you also have to make the decision by a certain date in order to allow time for the teams to prepare for the change. The back-up plan, set up from the get-go says, “if we aren’t able to come to consensus by July 31, Jim’s going to decide (Leader Decides).
  3. Bringing clarity in advance to who is making the decision is freeing! Everyone knows their role. If you have no role in it, then you don’t have to expend any energy on it. If you’re giving input, you can speak honestly and openly, and then your job is done. If you have a vote, that’s clear as well.

This is a guest post by Amy Anderson who serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group. Amy served as the Executive Director of Weekend Services for over 12 years at Eagle Brook Church in the Twin Cities, helping the church grow from 3,000 to over 20,000. Today she works with churches of all sizes, providing a fresh perspective and concrete strategies to strengthen their processes, staff health and weekend experience.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing, Testimonial

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8 Keys to Defining your Multisite Strategy

Currently there are more than 8,000 churches across America that consider themselves to be multisite churches. These multisite churches vary in denominational affiliation, theological persuasion, size of attendance, physical location and facilities, teaching (video or live), ministries, and style of worship. Churches are proving that there are a lot of ways to do multisite. Many churches are just jumping into the deep end of the pool and figuring this multisite thing out as they go. While you can do that, I’d suggest that a stronger way to launch and continue launching campuses is to nail down your strategy as much as you can ahead of time. While there a lot of models and variations of models to choose from there are 8 keys to developing an effective multisite strategy that I’d encourage you to wrestle with before you launch your first multisite campus.

1. Teaching

Are you going to deliver teaching via video or live in person at every campus? Are you only going to hire Campus Pastors who are also good communicators? Will teaching be done by one primary communicator or by a teaching team? Will the same message be preached everywhere or will you allow different teaching on each campus? Early on in the multisite movement video was the way many multisite churches were delivering weekend preaching. That number has shifted and now it’s at about a 50-50 split of multisite churches that use live teaching and churches that use video.

2. Campus Pastor

One of the most important questions you are going to answer before you go multisite is, “Who is going to be the Campus Pastor?” Not only do they need to be a cultural fit, after all culture is transferred through people not systems, but they need to be a leader. They need to be able to turn followers into volunteers. Here’s more on “What Makes a Great Campus Pastor?”

3. Staffing

What is your staffing model going to look like at the new campus? What will the Full Time Staff to Church Attender ratio be? What roles are most important to fill at the new campus? What roles could be part-time or contract employees? Are you going to staff with a few people to get it going and add staff as it goes or are you going to staff more robustly for what you plan on attendance begin at the 1-year mark?

4. Facilities

If you’ve ever purchased a home before you know that location matters. 55-80% of your church lives within a 15-minute drive time of your existing church. The rest pretty much live within about a 30-minute drive time. That 15-30 minute drive time distance is the sweet spot. Build on an island of strength by identifying a location where you already have a high number of people driving from. Are you going to purchase land and build a ground up facility? Are you going renovate existing space? Are you going to have consistent environmental design standards so each of your facilities look and feel similar?

5. Launch Strategy

How are you going to identify a location, a staff team, a core team of volunteer leaders, build a communication for your church, and marketing strategy for the new community you will be in? It’s better to be strong in one location than weak in two. The average size of a multisite campus is 360 people. When launching a new campus ask yourself, can we send 200-400 people from our original campus and still be strong enough to keep moving forward and not cripple our sending campus?

6. Decision Making

What is going to be identical between all of your campuses and where will each campus have the opportunity to exercise a bit more independence? And better yet, who is going to make that call? What decisions will be made by the Central Service Team and what decisions will be made by the individual Campus Teams?

7. Financial Model

What is the plan for the new campus to be financially viable? How much are you going to plan on investing in each site to get it started and why? Most multisite campuses become financially self-sustaining within 3 years. But how much will it cost to get there? A lot of that is determined by your facility choice, the equipment you resource the new campus with, your staffing strategy, the economy of the new community you’re going into, and how many givers are going to move from the sending campus to the new campus, and of course the growth rate of the new campus.

8. Ministry Model

Before you launch determine how consistent your ministries will be between campuses. Will the new campus do every ministry that the sending or original campus does? If you’re not going to reproduce it than is it something that should be eliminated?


Posted in Leadership

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Why there is no Leadership without Loss

The leadership secret that no one is telling you about? There is no leadership without loss. It may not be popular, but it is absolutely take it to the bank true. Most people mistakenly believe that gaining leadership is all about gaining more power, gaining a more influential position, and gaining more prestige and popularity. But leaders who lead at the highest levels know there is no going up, without giving up. And the higher you go in leadership, the more you have to be willing to lose. In fact here are 3 big things that leaders lose the higher they go in leadership.

#1 Preference

The best leaders I’ve been around ask what’s best for the organization, not what’s best for themselves. And then they defer their preference for the performance of the organization.

#2 Rights

The best leaders willingly give up their rights in exchange for responsibility.

#3 Control

Great leaders are able to recruit and keep other incredible leaders at the table because they’re willing to give up control. They’re willing to share leadership and allow others to lead in their area of brilliance.

Jesus put it this way: If you want to gain your life, you have to lose itif you want to be first, you have to be last.

What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the connection between loss and leadership? Check out 10 Things you Lose when your Church Grows

Photo Credit: Jan Tik via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership