Do you remember growing pains? Not the Kirk Cameron sitcom my generation and older remembers, but the real growing pains you had as a child? You may not, since everyone doesn’t experience them, but I did. I remember the dull pain that came with the change in the structure of my body that was necessary for growth. Good structure is always a critical prerequisite for growth.
Every ministry is built on a number of different structures. Structures for staff, volunteers, finances and facilities. One principle about structure is that it either fuels growth or limits it. When it comes to volunteer structures specifically, here are 5 ways we can structure for growth in our children’s ministry:
Create a Leadership Pipeline
Leadership is just one of many gifts needed in ministry. However, leadership is unique in that its purpose is to align, focus, and maximize every other gift. The foundation of our volunteer structure is leadership, and the first step in structuring for growth is to define a pipeline for leadership. An example of a leadership pipeline would be:
Team Member → Leader → Coach →Director
Directors lead Coaches, who lead Leaders, who lead Team Members. This is not about value, because all roles are important and necessary. In fact, the Small Group Leader for a child is far more important to them than the Director of the ministry. It’s not about value, but rather about clarity. A leadership pipeline defines roles, determines span of care, and provides the framework for growth.
Limit the Span of Care
The span of care is the number of people that someone can adequately care for as a leader. Our different gifts, personalities, available time and energy all contribute to defining that span, but for the most part we can safely say a volunteer can adequately care for about 6-12 people. As we structure for growth it’s important to decide what the limit will be in terms of the span of care we will expect from each leadership role.
Re-build the Org Chart
With the leadership pipeline and a span of care limit set, we can re-build our organizational charts around our ministry needs with those two things in mind. The org chart should use the language from the leadership pipeline and ensure nobody has to exceed the span of care we determined. There are many other factors in building an org chart, including the programs we run, roles needed for those programs, how many campuses and services we have, etc. But, the foundation of the org chart should be the pipeline with everything else built around that.
Create Job Descriptions
Once the new org chart is set, we can create job descriptions. Job descriptions sound boring and corporate, and can be a complete waste of time if not implemented correctly. The purpose of a job description is to provide absolute clarity to a volunteer in regards to what is expected of them. The job description should include a clear definition of what the most important thing is in that role. A clear job description also helps us recruit, because we know exactly what we need and the people we invite to serve can know if it’s a fit for them.
This entire process of creating a structure for growth is centered around maximizing leadership. All of these steps set the stage for that to happen, but it is up to us to actually delegate authority throughout the structure. Leaders who must control everything are a barrier to growth regardless of any structure that’s put in place. Craig Groeschel says delegating tasks and responsibility creates followers, but delegating authority creates leaders. By delegating authority and empowering leaders throughout the pipeline we create a structure that can scale and fuel growth in our ministry.
Structure either fuels growth or limits it. We need to be out in front with our structure in order to allow for future growth. In addition to that, large growth usually requires a significant change in structure. All of us would love for 50, 100, or 500 new volunteers to sign up this weekend, but could our structure handle it? If not, that’s probably one reason we’re not seeing the kind of influx in volunteers we would like.