Surprising Role of Systems in the Health of Church Staff with Wayne Stewart

Thanks for listening in to this week’s unSeminary podcast. With us today is Wayne Stewart, Pastor of Support Ministries at Christ Community Church in Ames, Iowa.

Christ Community Church is in central Iowa near a university and so the church is home to a very diverse crowd of international students rooted in a stable, caring community.

Wayne is here to share about how Christ Community Church created systems to streamline communications and align all areas of their church. Ultimately this helped reduce competition between ministries and increased teamwork throughout the organization.

  • Identify macro-systems. // In ministry we like to focus more on the people-side of things than the systems. Yet good system development and support are needed to ensure that things run smoothly and effectively. At Christ Community Church, there were some areas of friction between ministries where they felt like they had to compete with each other because there was no system in place to offer direction. So the staff started thinking about some of the ways they work together all of the time. They referred to these areas as macro systems – essentially the ways they get work done together. How could these macro-systems be streamlined to help with communication and teamwork across the organization?
  • Examining a planning system. // One of the systems Christ Community Church tackled was in planning. They realized that every pastor on staff, whether the teaching pastor or youth pastor or worship pastor, had a different planning cycle they used. Each of these different ministries was doing great work, but they were using different rhythms and colliding with each other unnecessarily. Asking what they could accomplish if they were on the same rhythm together led to the staff working on a new overarching planning rhythm that could be broken down into ways that were more knowable and repeatable.
  • Implementing ministry-wide planning cycles. // The team broke the year into two six-month ministry horizons and then those six months were broken down even further. In a six-month block, the first four months are set aside for the ministry leaders’ regular planning practices. This includes seeking God for wisdom as well as brainstorming ideas and developing a plan. The remaining two months are for sequencing. During this time each ministry comes together and lays their cards on the table so each area can see what another is doing. By having each ministry intentionally collaborate, Christ Community Church has systematized how they have conversations about calendar planning so everyone has a chance to engage in it.
  • Project management. // Another macro-system is project management. Project management can be an area in the church that needs some focus in bringing together leaders who may do things differently. Create steps in which everyone knows how to talk about their ideas as well as the process for execution they’ll use with its phases and versions. A phase for project management moves the team from concept to reality. Discuss the first version of an idea with the small group of people who need to look at it with you before moving on to the next step.
  • Process ideas. // An idea is laid out in a Microsoft Word project management template for the staff at the church to use in moving through the steps of a project. It helps ministry leaders think through their ideas in a structured way, and is encouraged for use where help is needed in considering how the idea will impact people. For example, a welcome center revision is ultimately aiming towards a welcome where people feel like they are fully engaged and get what they needed, both with care and clarity for their next step.
  • Tackling other macro-systems. // Wayne has written a book called Flow: The Surprising Role of Systems in the Health of Church Staff and Key Leaders. It walks through his method for developing systems for planning, projects and resources which remove unnecessary resistance in these critical areas of church staff and key leader life.

You can find resources about church development at www.churchflow.org.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.