Processes, not people, are the real root of ministry friction

If you’ve been in ministry for any time at all, you know that churches aren’t exempt from experiencing friction within their culture. It could be a miscommunication between two people on staff. It could be unclear expectations set by a senior leader that cause something to go wrong.

Whatever the reason, if this friction isn’t addressed, it grows. Frustration increases and motivation decreases. Over time, these small breakdowns between staff members can become serious issues that have the potential to bring any ministry down.

The real root of ministry friction

While church leaders aren’t naïve to the fact that friction exists, many fail to realize the real root of that friction. It’s easy to assume that most friction that occurs within ministry is a people problem. We ask questions like, “Why are they so difficult to work with?” or “How can I lead them to start thinking the right way?” We chalk all of the frustration we experience in our teams up to the fact that people are imperfect and we live in a broken world.

But what if people aren’t really the cause of most of the friction we experience in ministry? A few weeks ago, Ron Edmondson shared about a recent experience where friction developed within his church. After taking a step back, Ron realized that the friction wasn’t rooted in people; it was rooted in the processes his team used to communicate.

Here’s a thought Ron shared that really stood out to me:

“Sure, the friction was wrong. Sure the miscommunication, unclear expectations, unknown objectives…all wrong. All of those, however, are natural occurrences when there is no system in place to address those concerns. Or when the system isn’t good enough. People were performing under the current systems…or lack thereof…the best they knew how.

Want to reduce ministry friction? Improve your processes

Is there a way for our staff to address their opinions or concerns in a healthy way?

What are we doing to address some of the breakdowns in communication that are happening?

These are the questions church leaders need to be asking if they want to reduce friction within their teams.

Even in a healthy culture, there are times when friction occurs. In fact, if you're empowering people in your organization to share their ideas and take ownership of their area of ministry, friction will occur. But if you want to decrease the friction, improve the system.

What is your church doing to address the real root of ministry friction?

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Posted by Steve Caton on March 17, 2014