A 9 Minute Read - By Chris Bright - posted on October 1, 2020

5 guaranteed ways to get a better org chart

There’s an old saying that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. And it’s usually true, especially in church life. How often are we struggling to find people to fill roles? I don’t know a single church that isn’t crying out for leaders in some area. Now, some of this is just a natural tension that needs to be managed. After all, your vision will always outrun your resources, that’s just the nature of vision.  

But for small to medium size churches, you’ll often see one or two people doing the majority of the work. Soon enough, things get dropped, and confusion reigns.  

In order to fix this, we often turn to the Org Chart. We think that if we can just write things down, we’ll get organised. That rarely works. What happens is that we start by placing peoples’ names on a sheet of paper and put their role underneath. Whilst the chart may look nice, we’ve only drawn the chaos, we haven’t fixed it. If we’re going to bring new leaders through the organisation, we need to think about the org chart differently.  

1. The Org Chart is about function 

The first thing to realise is that your org chart isn’t about power or authority, it’s about function. In any organisation, certain tasks need to be completed for the organisation to be successful. Then you’ll find that certain tasks need to be grouped together into roles, roles need to be grouped together into teams, teams grouped together into departments and departments into an organisation. It’s not the other way around.  

That means that management roles are all about ensuring that grouped activities are done cohesively in order to ensure proper function. The higher up (or perhaps it should be lower down?) in the organisation, the broader the focus; the closer you get to the activity performed, the narrower the focus.   

Org Chart Tip: Create separate org charts for function, communication and influence (note: you’ll want your communication and influence charts to be much flatter than function) 

2. Roles exist whether you like it or not 

Whilst you may only run a few things, there are roles that exist whether you think so or not. The traditional C-Suite Roles of Fortune 500 companies like Finance (CFO), Marketing (CMO) and Operations (COO) all exist even in the smallest church. Every church needs to steward its finances, promote itself and operate efficiently and responsibly, however most of these roles get subsumed into one main role of ‘Pastor’. However, that’s not helpful.  

Org Chart Tip: Think through every activity your church needs to have, whether there’s someone available to do it or not. 

3. Roles are not posts 

A better way to think of roles in your church is to separate it from the people. People occupy posts, they are not roles. One person’s post may be one or multiple roles. By separating the roles from the posts, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what you need to achieve. 

This is also helpful when you are looking for new leaders. Every leader has different strengths. We often make the mistake of thinking that when someone leaves a post that you can just replace them with someone else. However, a new person won’t be able to just come in and take the exact same posting as the last person, especially for posts that take multiple roles like Pastor or Assistant Pastor. What is better is to re-assign the roles of the posts depending on the person’s gifting mix.  

Org Chart tip: Take time to ask each staff member what activities they are responsible for, then start to group activities into roles (not posts). 

3Fill up your org chart from the bottom 

Remember how I said that roles exist whether you have someone to do them or not? Well that means that if you’re doing everything, you’re not the Pastor, you’re just the boss to yourself. True pastoring doesn’t just happen in the seats on a Sunday, or in the midweek groups, it mostly happens on the job. Dr Allen Tough’s research into adult learning shows that 10% of learning happens by listening (think Sundays), 20% by interaction (think groups) and 70% by doing (think teams). That means that the majority of your efforts should be focused in building team, because that’s where people grow the most.  

It can be really tempting when asking someone to join your team by offering to give them huge areas of responsibility. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but you need to be really sure that they have the competencies required to complete that role. A better place to start is by giving them responsibility for one task. Just one. Once you’ve fully trained them in that task and they’re functioning well, give them another task in the same role. Soon enough, you’ve promoted yourself out of a role. 

Now repeat that across each role, starting from the bottom. It takes time, but soon enough, you’ll give away all of your first layer of roles and you’ll now be everyone’s team leader. The next thing to do is to get the people you’ve trained to train up someone new, then promote people to become team leaders, and so on. Suddenly, you’re growing your team from the ground up. 

Org Chart Tip: It’s better to focus on one area at a time. 

5. Give authority away 

It’s difficult to delegate a task. You take a risk and there’s no guarantee they’ll do it as well as you. In fact, they won’t do it as well as you. However, over time, they’ll probably take it further than you thought possible. 

Giving the task away is one thing, but giving authority away is another. When it’s just the task, there is a set way to do something. Follow the rules and you can’t go wrong. When you give away authority, you’re now giving someone permission to not just work in the job, but to work on the job too. They can change and re-work the role to make it better. That’s scary, but its necessary. I remember hearing that megachurch pastor Andy Stanley achieves this by saying “You decide!” to almost everything. He’s not abdicating responsibility; he’s giving authority away. That flattens the authority structure so much, improves the speed of decision-making, and ultimately, keeps people invested in what they do. 

What’s important here, though, is that you don’t dump responsibility on people. Your job is to give each person a clear remit, give support and guidance without micromanaging. 

Org Chart Tip: If you think someone can do the job 50% as well as you, delegate it to them. 

How is your org chart? 

Org charts can feel like a headache to manage, but it’s worth taking time to get all of the roles clear so that you can begin the task of developing leaders to share the weight of responsibility. If you need help sorting our your org chart, we can help. It all starts with a FREE 1-hour call with us to find out how we can serve you best.