In this post I wrote about how we try to keep a finger on the pulse of our environments in order to monitor quality and consistency. That’s always a challenge in family ministry, where children and student ministries both function like churches themselves with their own teaching plans, small groups, volunteer teams, communication systems, events, care, and just about everything you see in a church overall. It’s a challenge to simply monitor how all of that is going and an even greater challenge to make it better.
So, how do we do it?
How do we improve quality and consistency in our ministries?
I think it comes down to two important things, systems and leadership. In terms of how they work together, systems set the floor and leadership raises the ceiling of an organization.
Systems Set the Floor
The ceiling/floor terms are common in the sports world, where a college athlete coming into a pro league may be described as having a “high floor” or “high ceiling”. A high floor means you know what you’re getting. Their worst performance is still pretty good, and overall they’re consistent. A high ceiling means there’s a lot of potential for growth and they could become one of the absolute best.
In ministry we want to set a high floor. We want consistent experiences week in and week out in every environment. We also want those experiences to be good. I believe the best way we ensure that is through great systems. Systems are the collection of defined processes used to execute everything we do in ministry. Here are 3 characteristics of systems that help set a high floor in our ministries.
3 Characteristics of Systems That Set A High Floor
They create behaviors you want to see
As Andy Stanley says, “systems create behaviors.” Systems that help set a high floor address behaviors we don’t want to see continue. A great exercise we can do is list out all the behaviors we see in our organization that we don’t want. The obvious ones include volunteers coming late, leaders not taking initiative, communicators not preparing ahead of time, etc. Good systems help champion the behaviors we want to see and remove the ones we don’t like.
They are documented
The purpose of a system is to allow anyone to carry it out in the same way to get the same results as originally intended. Ideally it is something that is easy to replicate and easy to teach. Documenting your systems allows that to happen. However, they do take time to create initially. Documenting a system is as easy as typing up the step by step guide to doing whatever you want people to do.
They empower leaders
Many of our systems are simply designed to help volunteers execute ministry the way we want to see it done. That is important, but great systems also include a way to empower leaders. For instance, can volunteers create and improve on our systems (lead), or are they just suppose to do what they’re told (follow)?
One Piece of Advice
One other thing I should mention is that few people enjoy defining, documenting and improving systems. As leaders it’s our job to ensure we have great systems, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it. The best advice I can give is to find people who do love this and equip them to do it for your ministry.