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Effective Structures

Many great ministry ideas in the church never get fulfilled.  Many wonderful plans get vetoed when they come to the official church board. 

Many church boards are structured around a 1950’s corporate style still using parliamentary procedures to accomplish the “business” of the church.  The Board members often see their responsibility as guarding the status quo of the church, although many do not recognize that as their motive.  They look upon any new idea with great suspect, and the first reaction is, “Prove that this will work, that it will succeed, and that it won’t cost the church any money.”  The basic mode of operation is “permission-withholding.”          

A church with a healthy characteristic of functional structures utilizes a church structure that is more free-flowing and permission-giving.  A church with healthy functional structures will be risk-taking, willing to try new ideas and equally willing to cancel their implementation if they are not effective.  The old paradigm of church structure called for the laity to manage the church with an attitude that if we try a new idea and it doesn’t work, we failed.   The new paradigm approaches the idea with an eagerness to learn, and if it fails, then we learn from our mistakes and try again.           

A healthy church organizes structures around ministry and being faithful to the church’s mission and purpose.  Many healthy churches have established a policy of asking three questions of any new ministry or program that someone wants to initiate. 

  1.  Does it further the mission, vision, or purpose of the church? 
  2.  Does it make new disciples or help people grow in their faith? 
  3.  Is there or can there be a team to work in accomplishing this ministry?            
If these conditions are met, then the ministry moves forward, with the blessing of the church board.

One effective approach to developing functional structures is for the traditional organizational structure of boards and committees be changed to “teams.”  Teams formed around ministry areas and tasks are more adaptable and responsive to new situations.  However, this change must reflect a change in approach that focuses on ministry, not simply a change in name.

To regain a healthy church with functional structures, all ministries, programs, and committees must align with the church’s mission and purpose.  A careful review of each area may reveal that the church has been using resources to maintain the structure and the traditions of the church rather than accomplishing the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

The faith journey is about growing in our spiritual life. We are all spiritual beings. Natural Church Development measures the level of passion we have in our relationship to Christ.


  • Systems for communication and decision-making.
  • Structures enable the body to fulfill its intended purpose.
  • Structures reflect:
    • The programs and ministries of the church.
    • The systems which link the ministries together into a unified organism.
    • The traditions and regulations which define the church culture.


  • Lack of clarified values.
  • A vision statement which few know about.
  • A mission statement which is never used in decision making.
  • Ministries with no written attainable outcomes.
  • Inefficient communication structure.
  • Dysfunctional church where particular people control decisions, pastors leaving/being dismissed, newcomers never feel included.
  • Lack of job descriptions for ministry positions.

What is Measured?

  • How closely does the ministry of the church relate to the mission or purpose of the church?
  • How effective is the organizational structure in promoting ministry and being obedient to God’s direction?
  • Does an overall ownership of the mission and direction of the church exist?

Biblical Basis
"But be sure that everything is done properly and in order."
1 Corinthians 14:40