Identifying Bottlenecks

I spent a few minutes on the phone with a Youth Pastor this morning and somewhere along the way, the conversation touched on "bottlenecks"...those things that get in the way and slow ministry down. We didn't identify any, just mentioned the concept briefly. Since then I've been thinking about junior high ministry and some of the potential bottlenecks youth groups face. Here are three that have jumped out.

My job as the point person for our junior high ministry is to empower, equip and encourage the paid and volunteer team I lead. When I get too caught up in details and try to micro-manage every aspect of our ministry it only slows things down and ultimately discourages growth. I have also learned that if my direct supervisor is a micro-manager, ministry is slowed down just as much because I don't feel the freedom to empower others and let ministry loose. Really, micro-management anywhere in the "chain of command" serves to slow down all areas of ministry below.

Since the point person's role is to empower, equip and encourage others to lead, what happens if that leader insists on being in charge of, present at, on stage during and getting credit for every piece of ministry? Obviously ministry slows down. As your ministry grows and expands, it's impossible for the point person to be a major force in everything. I believe this is one of the major bottlenecks to healthy ministry. Sure, a charismatic leader can attract a crowd but if that leader doesn't allow others to rise up and take a share of the spotlight, the ministry will be limited.

Obviously we need policies, but how many? If it takes filling out two online forms and a hard-copy that has to be hand delivered to church janitor in order to add an extra row of chairs to your meeting space, you're in trouble. When I look at Saddleback's history of growth, both church-wide and in our youth department, one of the key factors seems to be a shockingly limited amount of formal policy. In fact, historically as we have added policies over the years we have limited growth. Don't neglect good policy making. But don't create bottlenecks by creating them when they aren't needed.

Okay...add your "bottlenecks" to the list!


Matthew McNutt said...

This was good for me to read ... I was on the verge of bottle necking some of my volunteers. Thanks! : ) Got me thinking about it from a different perspective!

Ariel said...

A lack of of a clear vision amd mission. If you don't know what the vision is that God's given you, and how you're gonna get there - then you'll do everything and do nothing.

That could definitely lead to a bottleneck of human and financial resources; all your money and leaders are being used for 20 different ministries that it's hard to free them up when God brings an opportunity that you need to move quick on.

GOCGO Youth said...

Death by Committee
This past year we wound up with a small committee (3 people) for our older youth ministry group. We're all volunteers coming at it from different angles and with varying levels of commitment. When everyone is in charge no one gets much done.

Jeff Nicolette said...

It is great to be able to identify these "bottlenecks"...if we don't we are in for some serious trouble.

I think one that I have witness and probably have been guilty of is poor planning. When ministry is only planning a couple weeks out and isn't sure exactly what they are doing...it can lead to a huge bottleneck. Safe to say (as Ariel stated) ministry needs vision, it needs to know what it is doing and where it is going in order to actually get there.

Anonymous said...

"Anything with two heads is a freak, and no head is dead!"

Everything must have ONE leader, or head! And the head guys job is to CAST THE VISION. The vision dies every 21 days... so if its been three weeks for me, I know I need to send some sort of communication to the staff/volunteers letting them know where we are going.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Prov. 29:18

one56 said...

It is a scary thing that WE can be the hindering force in our own ministry. I am reading a great book about unlimiting God by removing the obstacles we place in His path including ourselves so thanks for the reinforcement of that profound truth. The book is if anyone is interested short but life-changing read "Unlimiting God" Richard Blackaby

Johan said...

Thanks for this post. I would add this one:

Leaders that don't follow instructions

I've seen how one simple task get delayed 6 months only because a leader didn't follow a simple instruction.