Monday, November 10, 2014

So you wanna be leader . . . . People not Programs

Focus on people not programs.

It can almost feel counter-intuitive at time, at least for those of us who have been trained to think in terms of a profit/loss product oriented world.  Programs are created to create profit: programs serve to support the bottom line. But when your bottom line is helping people know and follow Jesus, then bottom line, programs are about people.  That sounds simple right?  Makes sense?

But us church types we do love our programs!

We love our traditions.

 God help the person who comes between  a church and their potluck.

We are great at creating programs and honestly most of them are successful for a time. A church I used to be a part of had a pancake dinner once a year.  When it started it was a great outreach, people from all over the community attended.  They had an opportunity to meet volunteers, feel comfortable and welcomed in the building, and hear about up coming events.  But gradually, as the years ran on, it became more of a dinner hosted by volunteers for their families.  No one new was coming and the vision for the dinner had be lost.  Not to mention it had a heavy demand for volunteers.

Don't get me wrong this event was still fun and people enjoyed it, but as a leader you have to be willing to stop and look at events and decide if they are meeting your vision and if they are worth the cost.  The cost is not just financial.  If it is no longer meeting the vision and it is costing the organization (financially or in volunteer and leadership energy) then it may be time to say goodbye or at the very least rework that program.

The financial bottom line is often easy to see but what about the other two criteria - volunteer/leadership time, and meeting the vision?  Volunteers and staff only have a limited amount of time and energy to give.  We need to be sure that the asks we are making are the best asks to maximize their time and talents. And the vision? Well, sometimes we are so far down the road of, "but we've always done it", that we don't even know what the vision is.  Or, we as leaders have not done our job of recasting that vision a new, again and again and again.

 Let me be clear, we should not do ANYTHING without a clear vision: not a service, not a potluck, not a fundraiser, not a performance, not a study, not a single event.

Will it be hard for some of us to let go? Yes, no doubt, but if we do our job as leaders in casting a clear vision and reminding them of our goal, they will understand.  Not only understand, but they will embrace and champion whatever changes need to be made to reach that goal again.

All of that to say, the time we spend pouring into our volunteers is crucial.  We make conscious decisions to build them up, help them reflect God's love in their own unique way. When they see God's love in us, by the way we love them, speak truth to them, and honor their time and talents; they will do the same for others.  It is tempting and easy to make the quick decision without bringing those around us along.  It takes time, thought and prayer to pour into people.

Programs.....they're easy, people...... that's the challenge!