Is Your Church Staff Aligned?

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Have you ever driven a car that had its tires out of alignment? You might not know it at first, but before long, you find yourself constantly fighting to keep the car on the road. It wears you out and causes tension in your neck and shoulders as your hands keep a constant pressure on the steering wheel. And, all the while, your car is being damaged.

That’s exactly what happens when you have an individual on your church staff or an entire part of your ministry that is out of alignment with the direction of the vision of your church.

Three Types of Alignment

1.     Same Direction

This is when everyone is heading in the right direction. There is peace and harmony on your team. Your church is clear in its direction and all staff members, volunteers, and programs are headed toward that clear direction. When everyone is headed in the same direction, churches spend more time talking about how to reach people rather than about the specifics of the church constitution or people’s likes and dislikes of methods.

2.     Polar Opposite

Sometimes you will find that someone or something in your church is headed in the exact opposite direction of your church’s vision. It is obvious to everyone. It’s not a major deal though, because the individual is so far off that no one is being influenced. In this case, managing your church effectively means probably having a tough conversation with the individual, but it won’t be hard to convince him that he is not headed in the right direction, and no one else on the team will question your decision. Sometimes this is not just one individual but a subset of the church or a program that might have been a great idea in the beginning but is no longer a good use of the church’s resources. While it might be a tough conversation, it will be worth the overall health of your church to cut the program before you continue wasting time, money, and energy on running an ineffective program.

3.     Just A Little Off

The third type of misalignment is very dangerous. If unaddressed, it can destroy the unity of a church and sometimes split it apart. The misaligned individual is just slightly off. She isn’t advocating doctrines that are diametrically opposed to the church’s statement of faith. She doesn’t want to take your business in an entirely different direction. She just wants the leadership to move a few degrees. You’ve listened, asked clarifying questions, and heard her concerns. Even though you have restated the mission and vision, she continues to question methods, principles, values, staff motives, and decisions.

The misaligned individual never seems happy or satisfied, and you’ve never done quite enough to please her. Often they claim that there are scores of people who agree with their position. Everywhere they go, they sow seeds of disunity and displeasure.

Misalignment rarely goes away. You will need to address it head-on. Yes, do it with grace, asking questions and seeking to understand. But once the talking is done, ask for support or encourage him or her to find another place to serve or work.

Sometimes you find that you are the misaligned individual. You have grown or changed or learned something new--and you no longer line up with the organization you have loved and served. Do yourself and your church a favor, and peacefully withdraw without burning bridges or making a scene. 

Read more about this topic in Fairness is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles to Revolutionize Your Workplace

Tim StevensComment