Especially for a church leader with very little staff and a desire to grow, developing infrastructure can be a daunting task. The question is, Where do I start?
Once a church leader is convinced that developing infrastructure is fundamentally important to growth, the next step is getting it done. Here is where the real work begins. Also, many in church leadership roles are not gifted such that they’re excited about documenting processes, writing procedures, or establishing and documenting policies. In fact, they pretty much hate that kind of stuff!
So, the first order of business in beginning the infrastructure development effort is finding a leader that is gifted that way and understands how to get it done, or at least get it started. In most churches that means identifying a leader and nurturing a relationship with them, eventually plugging them into serving as a process improvement volunteer. (See my post on Leadership Evangelism.)
The next step is to identify what I call “pain points.” What recurring activity or area of ministry is causing you the most pain? What keeps you up at night? In every church, there’s something that isn’t going the way you want. These issues or “processes in need of improvement” should be listed out and then prioritized. From there you work the highest priority first and continue down the list. Keep the list active by continuing to add items as they come up and re-prioritize if needed. And, then continue to work on the highest priority first.
A simple example comes from many years ago when we were seeing an upward trend in the number of requests for a pastor to perform a wedding. (Check out this recent post on Does Your Church Do “Fly By” Weddings?) Responding to the requests and making decisions about which we would say “yes” to and which we would say “no” to became a real “pain.” Also, we recognized that we needed to make some decisions about what we were going to require from a couple asking one of our pastors to do their ceremony. What did we do? We met as a team, had a discussion about how we wanted to proceed, and we wrote a Wedding Operating Procedure.
Since then, weddings are no longer a pain. The potential couple knows and understands how to submit a request and what is required of them to have one of our pastors perform their ceremony. This is a pretty simple example, but I think it’s a good one.