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Simple Church 07 ALIGNMENT: Maximizing the Energy of Everyone

R & G open this chapter up with an illustration from the movie Miracle. You know the story right, the one about the group of young college hockey players who end up beating the Russian Olympic team that hadn’t been beaten for twenty years. How did they complete such a feat? Not by steriods, but rather by alignment, working as a team. It was called a miracle because by no ones streach of imagination were they anywhere close to being able to beat this Russian team, and yet they won. Well according to R & G a similar miracle has taken place in the church, that miracle is the unity the body has in Christ (John 17:21). Christ death and resurrection are the basis of unity in the church, and this basis has practical implications to be lived out by believers everywhere as Paul so clearly appeals to in Philippians 2, as elsewhere in the New Testament.

One of the things the coach of the Miracle hockey team did to gain alignment was build it into their relationships. According to R & G we are builders as well. “It is not enough to unite the church around the same what (purpose), but they also must be aligned on the same how (process).” There are five principals of alignment R & G unpack in this chapter: 1) Recruit on the process; 2) offer accountability; 3) implement the same process everywhere; 4) unite leaders around the process; and 5) ensure that new ministries fit. Lets look at how they deal with each of these;

  1. Recruit on the Process:People follow leadership, and if leadership is not moving in the same direction, then people are scattered. ” Leaders are charged with knowing who they are theologically and who they are philosophically, and according to R & G church recruitment teams are charged with examining and aligning themselves with candidates who fit in both ways. Because lets face it, in the world of pastoral job searches leaders, godly leaders, at times make themselves fit where they shouldn’t. For instance a funny/sad story from Eric’s life and Thom’s was when they created a false job posting at a churchstaffing.com; they created in a way that embodied contradictory theologies and philosophies. Many saw it and laughed, sending it around in private emails between pastors throughout the states, but sadly many applied to it as well. This is why it is so important for candidates and for churches to raise in clear ways the questions of “theological commitments” and “ministerial philosophies.”
  2. Offer Accountability: After churches have hired good fits they need to lead them, and leading them means offering accountability. Accountability is not micro-management and its not neglect in the name of freedom. “Micro-management stifles creativity and hampers shared leadership. Neglect fosters complacency and leads to a fragmented team.” In order to offer solid accountability in his own church Eric created a MAP, Ministry Application Plan, which mirrors an MOB in the business world. Simply put, each leader asks themselves how their specific ministry reflects the vision and process of the church, how their programs are designed to move people through the process, the nature of their organizational structure of ministry, and present evaluations of their ministry that reflects those plans. Eric’s leaders do this every year.
  3. Implement the Same Process Everywhere: Warning, warning an alien ship is appearing, and it appears to be multiplying in order to take over the world – enter The Gap. R & G use the illustration of how Gap inc. expanded to include several other areas of specialization in the clothing industry while using the same purpose/process to urge the church to consider doing the same in all of her generational/age-and-stage ministries (not programs). When churches do this there are benefits that occur: First, understanding is increased; second, unity is promoted; and third, families experience the same process (all of us in ministry know how important that is).
  4. Unite Leaders Around the Process: Is your church a well put together Mr. Potato head, or a over cooked spud who looks more like he got nuked than reconstructed? According to R & G there’s a lot of us with mashpotato on our face 🙂 Churches need unity, not uniformity. Unity is where diversity works together toward the same ends with the same process; uniformity is pure mimicing. R & G offer some basic people management advice here – remind people of the process & highlight their unique contributions to the process [reading this feels a bit like Office Space, did you get the memo 🙂 ].
  5. Ensure that New Ministries Fit: Moving is exciting, moving in – not so much! Particularly when you’re trying to fit your old stuff into a new place, but thats part of moving isn’t it. “Simple church leaders check the fit. Before a new ministry is launched, they ensure it is a viable part of the simple ministry process. They clarify specifically how the new ministry will move people through the process. And they ensure that the leaders of the new ministry understand how the ministry is part of the big picture.” In the simple church ministries come in two forms – as expansions and as additions. Expansions “are new ministries that are geared toward a specific age group or life stage.” Additions “are new ministries that fulfill a specific function within the simple process.”

Alignment in a churches life is important, more important than winning an unwinable hockey game. To bear this out R & G use an illustration from the story of Israel as they moved into inheriting the land. A whole generation perished because they were not aligned to the vision God gave to their leaders…