Decision-making is a difficult endeavour, and as church leaders it’s so easy to default to hoard all of the decision-making power. After all, it can be difficult to know who should make the decision, and then trusting someone else to make that decision can be tough.
However, we also know intuitively, that delegation of decision-making is a good thing. The more we hoard decision-making, the more there is an imbalance of power. Power was never made to be hoarded, and in the church, this is even more important. When Jesus talked about leaders being servants, He was serious. Servants don’t hoard power.
That means as church leaders, it is our responsibility to start giving power away. The more we can delegate the task of decision-making, the more that the power is shared amongst the church. There will always be decisions that must be made by you, but that should be the only decisions you make.
This is where the Decision Boat comes in. This little tool is a helpful way of being able to work out which are your decisions, and which are decisions to be delegated. Imagine that your church is a boat. With any boat, there is a percentage of the boat that sits above the waterline. These are the decisions that won’t sink the boat. If you hammer a nail into the wall above the waterline, you may make the boat look ugly, but you won’t sink the ship.
For example, your stage layout is an important aesthetic decision, but it’s not going to sink the boat, so that’s probably not a decision you need to make. The type of coffee you serve is an important decision – it can create the right atmosphere – but it’s not going to sink the boat, so it’s probably not a decision you should be making.
Then there are decisions that are below the waterline. A major budget spend can sink the boat. Hiring a staff member can sink the boat. Changing your ministry strategy can sink the boat. Setting your finance policy can sink the boat. Buying a new building can sink the boat. If a decision can sink the boat, that’s a decision you should be involved in.
It’s important to note, however, that if a decision may sink the boat, it shouldn’t just be you making the decision. That’s why you have a leadership team. The amount of decisions that a church leader should make alone should be almost zero.
Also, with important decisions that require technical knowledge, you’ll need to involve experts. Setting a finance policy may sink the boat, but you may not have the expertise to make the right decision. That’s where you need to get an expert, but you can still be responsible for how the decision is made – namely, checking to see if it links to your mission, values and strategy.
Lastly, there are some decisions that will be right on the waterline. Just like the surface of the water rises and falls with the waves, so too will there be some decisions that will be above the waterline in some circumstances, and below the waterline in other circumstances. Hiring a staff member can be above or below the waterline. Hiring a cleaner may be above the waterline but hiring an Assistant Pastor will probably be below the waterline. This also may change as the church grows. If you’re leading a smaller church, every staff hire counts. As you grow, more staff hires become above the waterline, and has a smaller impact on the overall church.
Every church is different and deciding where your waterline is will be unique to you. The general guideline is to think that more of a boa is above the waterline than below it. We’re not icebergs, where the main mass sits below the waterline. In that sense, aim to keep the majority of your decisions above the waterline, so that you can delegate more effectively. We’d love to know how you’re processing your decision-making. Book a FREE 1-Hour consultation call with us to talk through where your church is at and how we can help.