by Glen Edward Quiring
Pastor, NewGen Faith
Seminary won't teach you how organizations actually work. I learned a lot about Theology, Preaching, Ethics, and the Bible. But I was really unprepared for what lie beyond the halls of the academic enterprise.
In the last year I was able to learn two important words from the Wharton School of Business: Capacity and Bottlenecks (see Coursera.org). Capacity is the ability to meet demand. Bottlenecks are those points of service that prevent business from delivering services up to that demand. So, let's say you own a sandwich shop. You hire one person to make sandwiches but she cannot make sandwiches fast enough to satisfy the long line of customers. This scenario would constitute a bottleneck. We would further say this shop has a very limited capacity (ability to meet demand).
Bottlenecks occur in all kinds of organizations. I am a Minister so lets pick on churches. Here are some working examples of bottlenecks in traditional churches:
1. Hospitality: churches often want to be a friendly church but they have no operating gifts of hospitality.
2. Staffing: churches can hire staff and then run too many programs.
3. Message: Most churches believe their message is the backbone of faith. Often, however, churches will have a very narrow view of the gospel and therefore, a very narrow message.
4. Committees: Many churches are managed by committee. Committees can be pervasive bottlenecks when they debate decisions endlessly or refuse to act until they have an operating consensus. The result is a diminished capacity.
These are just a few examples that impact capacity in churches. Despite fervent liturgies, powerful sermons and rigid beliefs, these bottlenecks must be addressed in order to increase capacity. If you don’t increase capacity, your community will stagnate. Let’s face it, growth is not only desired in churches, but it is required for healthy, high functioning communities.
Whether you sell widgets, build houses, or provide social services organizational capacity will impact performance.
Is your church experiencing a downturn? Has your attendance dropped or you sense spiritual lethargy? Ask yourself if you have attributed this downturn to a lackluster theology. Perhaps you have attributed poor performance to a lackluster acceptance of the truth among your congregation? If so, do yourself a favor and avoid the blame game. Review your capacity and examine your organization for bottlenecks. You’ll be glad you did.
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