Any kind of organizational dysfunction will eat talent for breakfast. It will take any potential and destroy it. Everything was primed for success with the Lakers. Magic was coming back, they were locking in LeBron in free agency, they were sizzling on social media. And then came missing the playoffs, leaks about trading half the roster, and Magic resigning in a press conference without telling his boss.
It's no different in churches. Dysfunction destroys vision. Dysfunction destroys optimism. Dysfunction destroys mission. Dysfunction destroys fellowship. Dysfunction, when left to fester and grow, will spread like a cancer throughout an entire church. You don't have to feed dysfunction for it to grow. It does it on its own.
If we're going to push back against dysfunction in the church, it starts at the top with clear communication, convictional leadership, and accountability for fruitfulness and faithfulness from pastoral leadership. One of the many hats that pastors wear is that of culture narrator. It's possible for a pastor to shape the culture by what's shared, communicated, valued, celebrated, and reinforced. Dysfunction happens when there's really no rhyme or reason for how things happen.
There can be a number of other contributors to organizational dysfunction, but if we as leaders aren't willing to look in the mirror and acknowledge our part in it, we're never going to see improvement.
A second way we can push back against dysfunction is for there to be clearly established roles, responsibilities, and lines of accountability established. Dysfunction happened in the Lakers when there wasn't clarity of roles and spheres of responsibility. When we onboard a staff member, we communicate clearly what is expected and who they are responsible for and to. When members join, we train and equip and deploy them into a ministry or group so they know where they thrive. Committees operate with a clear job description. Most of this I've learned the hard way.
A third way we push back against dysfunction is that we set an expectation of health. In sports this is called a "winning culture." That's why the same teams pick late in the draft, and the same teams pick early in the draft. Some teams have an expectation of health. Churches can too. We can have an expectation of reaching our communities, an expectation of fellowship, an expectation of growth, an expectation of service. Or we can just slosh through the motions and hope something good happens.
A fourth way to push back against dysfunction is to make sure that not only are there roles and responsibilities but that the right people are in the right seats. Ministry is not like an assembly line where you can plug in someone and the job just continues. There's a need to carefully assess giftedness, calling, character, skill, chemistry, and more. We have to make sure we're putting people in the right place so they can thrive. No one wants a grouchy children's worker who doesn't like kids. And you can't have a Luddite working with your technology.
How do you push back against dysfunction?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.