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Christian Leadership Matters: Results Orientation for the Sake of the Gospel

Posted in Accountability, Christian Leadership Matters, Purpose, Team, and Team Building

One of the most powerful things you can do to super-charge your leadership is to cultivate a Results-Oriented ministry team. Too often our desire to be “pastoral” or “loving” or “inclusive” helps create a ministry team that fellowships together well, but who are, ultimately, ineffective leaders. When that happens, little to nothing important gets done.

Although the Leaders of the organization should place high value on being pastoral, loving, and inclusive, it is also important to highly value results for the sake of the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-23). A results-orientation is also Biblically pastoral, demonstrates Christ-like love, and is infinitely inclusive when done well.
Results orientation has many advantages:

  • The cliche: “What gets measured, gets done” isn’t always true, but true enough. Just because we measure something doesn’t mean we will always hit our goal, but we all know that if we fail to keep score, our “runs batted in” will suffer.
  • High-achievement volunteers have a NEED to keep score. Every leadership team I have ever served on NEEDED additional high-achievement members. If the leader of “St. John’s by the Gas Station” doesn’t lead according to results-orientation, the high-achieving volunteer will be tempted to serve a ministry somewhere else that does.
  • Results orientation will keep your ministry or organization focused on important issues and not get bogged down with trivial pursuits.
  • And the obvious, goals are more likely to be achieved if we hold ourselves accountable for results (not just being busy).

So, how can Christian leaders cultivate results orientation well? I’m glad you asked!

As this is the last in the series of articles based on Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I’ll only briefly summarize the four building blocks to the establishment and maintenance of forming a Results-Orientation team and provide links to the other steps for your convenience.

Step one, build deep trust. (Click the link to read the first article in this series.) Your objective is to build trust: in yourself as leader, in your Board and other leaders, and in the mission of the organization. Without deep and sincere trust, nothing good will happen.

Step two, create an atmosphere of constructive conflict. Your objective is to create a culture of open, honest, creative and highly innovative team members who are willing to take risks in order to accomplish the organization’s mission. You need people to openly share the good, bad, and even the ugly in order to acquire the necessary information to make informed decisions.

Step three, cultivate high-commitment buy-in by everyone on your team. This builds on the first two steps and culminates in a cohesive team able to speak with ONE voice and demonstrate lazer-focus on the mission.

Step four, Create a Culture of Accountability. Accountability in ministry or business is the ability of each individual as well as the group to make commitments and consistently follow through on those commitments. In healthy organizations individuals allow themselves to be accountable to the other members of the team. And the group has the attitude “one for all and all for one” as they have become a highly cohesive team (not a group of free-agents).

Step five of developing a strong and healthy ministry team is to work toward establishing Results Orientation for the Sake of the Gospel.

Establishing a Results-Oriented Ministry Team; Know Your “Why”
The great sports theologian Yogi Berra said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” That is so true and is applicable in many situations. If a congregation, business, or non-profit organization has no discernable vision or mission, everyone connected with that organization will ultimately be disappointed. A corollary to Yogi’s statement was written by Lewis Carroll:

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. 
‘I don’t know’, Alice answered.
‘Then’, said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”

It DOES matter which road we take; Christian Leadership Matters a LOT! Having Godly Vision is fundamental to Christian leadership. Being in mission is central to being Christ’s Church. Our exciting opportunity as God’s people is to discover our specific small part to what God seeks to do through His people right here and right now. That is our “Why!”

An Aligned Vision
In healthy organizations every volunteer and staff person embraces the same vision and mission. Under most circumstances, the Leader of the organization creates this aligned vision, this shared purpose. Unless there is an alignment of vision, the organization will not be able to establish the preferred future condition; goal-setting will be impossible. This is an extension of “knowing your WHY.” To align the vision is to allow that “why” to permeate the entire organization. The vision is not aligned if the Board is going East and the Elders are going West and the youth ministry is going North and the men’s group is cemented to the past. To establish results-orientation, everyone will need to be committed to the same ministry direction.

Choose What You Celebrate and What You Mourn
Celebrate: Results over busy-ness. The “ministry” isn’t the three-hour monthly meeting; ministry is what happens between meetings. Meetings are necessary (as well as important and fun) if done well (and they should NOT normally be three hours!). But we meet to report what needs reporting, coordinate our common resources, evaluate and sometimes modify our goals, and empower one another to get back into the trenches. (I’ll focus on how to have GREAT meetings in another article.) The healthy organization elevates and celebrates results; we help one another achieve results, not just stay busy.

Celebrate: What WE accomplished. Celebrate working together as the body of Christ. Christian ministry is more like football than tennis; we all have our respective roles and when the team performs well together, we move the ball toward the goal. Reward organizational results more than individual accomplishments.

Mourn: Counterproductive Behaviors and attitudes. Sometimes individual people are disruptive in either their behavior or their attitude. Set the expectations up front; let everyone know your leadership values (and, of course, consistently live by those values yourself!). Even then, there’s always that one person who thinks they have the spiritual gift of criticism or negativity. Once in a while you’ll come across someone that will ALWAYS put the most negative spin on every decision and discussion. You need to talk privately with them and you might even have to fire them (even though they are volunteers. . . even though their Aunt Matilda is the biggest giver in the congregation). Failure to do so will have long-lasting negative effects on you and your ministry.

Mourn: Unwillingness to Risk. We’re not talking about gambling but calculated, intentional and informed step of faith. It is my opinion that Christian ministries MUST learn to risk all for the cause of Christ. After 2,000 years we have become timid, fearful of losing what we have, and unwilling to put what we do have on the line for Christ. (Jesus discusses this principle in the Parable of the Treasure Hidden in a Field, Matthew 13:44-46; He refers to selling all and selling everything to obtain the Treasure.) Do your homework, get the facts, spend a HUGE amount of time in prayer, make the most informed decision you possibly can, and GO FOR IT in the name of Christ Jesus.

Use Leadership Tools
In the article on Accountability I suggested using the “3-W” Chart to keep track of What needs to be done, by Whom, and When is it to be completed. There are more free tools available on the internet than you can ever read much less put to good use (177 million found in 59/100ths of a second!). There are Organizational Charts, Flow Charts of all sorts, Process Management Charts, Distribution Charts, etc. Be careful to not “information map” yourself to death! I will suggest a couple of things your organization can do to keep a results-orientation at the forefront of your minds. They include:

Scorecard. A Scorecard is associated with the principle “What Gets Measured Gets Done.” The beauty of a scorecard is that YOU create the card. Choose what is important to your organization right now, find a way to measure outcomes, and make those metrics available to everyone in your organization. Be care to:
a) Choose what can be measured
b) What you can measure over a sustained period of time
c) Measure what is central to your mission

Whereas I love the objective nature of charts and measurement, you will need to prayerfully consider how one might measure much of what we highly value as Christians (if you even want to at all). When using a scorecard you can only measure activities and visible outcomes. There is no direct way for humans to measure faith, for example; we can only measure some of the visible behaviors that are sometimes associated with faith.

Easy things to measure: 

 

 

  • Numbers: attendance, volunteers, attrition rate, mailers, visits made, first-time guests, shut-ins, marriages, Baptism, Communion attendance, etc.
  • Money: offerings, money spent for missions, money raised for special events, etc.
  • Time: staff hours, volunteer hours, community service hours, etc.
  • (Some) Relationships: contacts with new people in the community, response rate of personal invitation, members who volunteer and meet new people as a result: food distribution, community events, etc.

The principle here is that the Church needs to find ways to quantify our efforts so that we focus our attention and resources on activities that ultimately result in more people knowing Christ and become His Disciple.

Financials. The other document (actually, set of documents) I suggest leaders become familiar with and use to their fullest potential are what are called financials. Whereas the financial statements are typically well understood by small and large businesses, in ministry, there seems to be an attitude among many that this is somehow beneath the “spiritual” person. This, of course, if HOGWASH!

Your financials are your ministry plan in monetary language. Leaders (Pastors, DCEs, Principals, Worship Leaders, Church Administrators): the financial statements summarize what you agreed to when you presented your ministry plan for the year. The finance people changed your ministry plan into dollars and cents so that everyone in the congregation and the world will know what you plan to do and how much this will cost.

It is my opinion that Church Leaders need to also pay close attention to Stewardship Data (although Stewardship involves more than money, for the moment, I’m talking about the INCOME sources, typically referred to as “giving units.”) When these “giving units” (people for whom Christ died — not just “units” of course!); when people are having trouble in their lives, that trouble often results in changes in contributions. It’s not about their money. Understanding the Stewardship reports can give you insight into who might need your prayers and counsel and help. Changes in giving patterns can also be an indicator that something is systemically wrong in the organization (eg: Discipleship, matters of faith, relationship issues, etc.). The wise leader will covet all available information, including information dealing the money.

Too many ministers avoid understanding financial statements and great harm to The Church is the result.

Summary

As previously stated, these six articles were based on Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. For deeper insight into the mind of one of the great organizational leaders today, buy his book! The steps he writes about and upon which I wrote these articles are:

Step one, build deep trust.

Step two, create an atmosphere of constructive conflict.

Step three, cultivate high-commitment buy-in by everyone on your team.

Step four, Create a Culture of Accountability.

Step five, work toward establishing Results Orientation for the Sake of the Gospel.

As with all these building blocks of effective organizational leadership, some of this is “science,” and some is “art.” Since God is the ONE who Called you to leadership, we have everything we need to lead people in a way that pleases God and edifies His people; the only other thing we need is practice — to steal another marketing phrase, “just do it.” Much of what we learn is ONLY ultimately “learned” by doing. . . and sometimes failing, but by God’s grace, always making progress.

If you would like to discuss this or any other of my articles, please contact me. If you are looking for a speaker for an upcoming event, would like to book a coaching session, or would like help with congregational transformation, please contact me via the website or by email.

Until Next Week. . .

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Dr. Phil Pledger is The Higher Calling Coach and writes a blog entitled Christian Leadership Matters each week. Through his blog and coaching practice, Dr. Pledger seeks to help Professional Church Workers discover and enhance the leadership skills needed to make positive changes in their lives and in the ministry they serve. The goal is to find new ways to meet challenges, overcome roadblocks, and to find joy in serving Christ and His Church.

Click TheHigherCallingCoach.com to sign up for Christian Leadership Matters.  If you would like to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation or would like to ask a question, email Dr. Phil at: Phil@TheHigherCallingCoach.com.

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