Production and Church
Do those two terms sound like the don’t go together well? What is it about the idea of “church” that makes us uncomfortable with terms like “revenue”, “marketing”, or “production”? I’ve felt the twinge that comes from the apparent incompatibility of those concepts, but the truth of the matter is that those aspects of churches exist whether we want to admit it or not. In my experience, the more aware of those aspects of our churches we are the better job we do in managing them. The reverse is also true: the less aware of those aspects of our churches we are the worse job we do in managing them.
I would argue that a majority of purpose/production related conflicts that exist in churches originate with a lack of clarity over the purpose of the church. I promise to not get all purpose-driven on you, but clearly communicating the purpose for a church is essential to the health of the church. Considering the Dual C0ncern Model introduced in the previous post, church leaders must know the purpose of the church in order to effectively use the managerial grid in their leadership efforts. Without a clearly defined and communicated purpose, the only aspect of the grid that remains is the people side. When people are allowed to act as they see fit without some purpose/production aspect to guide them, all kinds of craziness ensues.
In the absence of a clearly define purpose, each individual is left to interpret for his or herself what the purpose is. Since this interpretation is a complex mix of preferences, experiences, traditions, and what they learned from the History Channel, those interpretations are as varied as the individuals themselves. Since individuals define their relationship to the organization through the fulfillment of purpose, these interpretations can become very ingrained and very personal. When two opposing interpretations collide, instead of just a collision of interpretations you have a collision of ingrained and personal interpretations.
Once we get past the initial sting of incompatibility between church and business, one of the most healthy exercises a church can go through is to ask and assess the question “What do we produce?” This helps to cut through the fog of purpose/mission statements and gets to the core of what the church is really about. It also avoids the “What do we want to be?” question and allows us to assess the church as it really is. Additionally, it allows us to compare the production of the church to the purpose of the church as made in scripture: Are we producing disciples?
So, what do churches produce? What does your church produce?