Agile Church: Slides and Case Studies

I can see that.

Folks who attended my workshop last week at NEXT: things have been pretty crazy around here since then, so I haven’t had a chance to play around with uploading my Keynote slides to the Blue Room. But if you’d like me to send them to you, e-mail me at maryannmcdana at gmail and I’ll pass them along.

However, I can post the case studies easily and have done so below.

During the workshop, after I’d done a short overview of agile as I understand it, we looked at these case studies and answered these questions in small groups:

Where do you see intersections between this church’s processes and agile process?
Where do you see places that agile methodology might help them?
What impediments do you see standing in the way of this church becoming more agile?
What next step would you suggest?

Here are the case studies. These are adapted from actual churches I queried. Hope they prove helpful.

~

Agile Church: Case Studies

Case A. Edgy Urban Church with a Smooth Traditional Center:
Medium-Sized Pastoral/Program Oriented Church

Before:

  • elders chaired committees
  • session meetings were run as committee of the whole
  • meetings were “terrible”
  • elders were burning out

After:

  • elders do not run committees; in fact they do not even serve on committees
  • new system of volunteer staff coordinators who oversee the ministries of the church
  • volunteer staff are empowered to get the work done any way they want (individually, through teams, regular meetings, online), but they have written job descriptions that describe their work
  • volunteer staff are also empowered to spend within their budget without session approval
  • the week before session, volunteer and staff meet for dinner—each coordinator prepares a one-page report for session containing basic information, actions taken, any major items requiring session approval, and examples of transformation/new growth that have occurred
  • these reports are compiled and given to elders several days before session meeting—elders are expected to get any questions answered prior to meeting
  • session meetings involve 30 minutes of business; the rest of the time is spent on prayer, equipping/study, and visioning “big picture” tasks for the congregation

 

Case B. Church of the Leafy Suburb: Large Program-Sized Church

  • Session consists of fifteen elders that are divided into pairs or triads for partnership, support and accountability—for example, children, youth and adult education elders form a triad; small group elder and fellowship elder form a pair; facilities and office operations elders form a pair.
  • Elders chair the committees and ensure that the ministry gets done, using whatever means they wish (regular meetings, retreats, “divide and conquer,” etc.)
  • Elders are expected to report back to session whenever there are items requiring session input or approval
  • In addition, each month a different ministry is highlighted as an order of the day: the elders prepare a more in-depth report, seek feedback, basically delve deeper into their ministry so elders are well versed in it
  • Session meetings consist mainly of business, but with 30 minutes of study/discipleship each month.

 

Case C.

Same as Case B but with the elders serving as a liaison to the team rather than the chair. As liaison, they have no power on the committee other than a vote when one is required.

 

Case D. Our Ecumenical Neighbor: Governance Model from Another Reformed Denomination

  • Ministers, elders and deacons
  • Elders=church council. Deacons=board of deacons. Combined elders and deacons=consistory
  • Elders are understood to be responsible for the spiritual life of the church, including pastoral care.
  • Deacons are responsible for the physical life of the church, mostly the finances and the charitable and social justice life of the church.
  • Major financial decisions are made by the consistory
  • “Elder districts”: each elder is assigned a certain group of people in congregation, often alphabetical or geographical. Every person in the congregation has an elder. If a person lands in the hospital, they would expect to see their elder and their pastor. These districts are sometimes small groups.
  • Not every elder is assigned to a committee. Committees report to council, but sometimes they don’t have a member seated on council. Councils will often have someone assigned or asked to be on a committee, but not to run it necessarily.
  • Council meetings were usually focused on worship; education; and even a review of what was going on with people in your elder district. And, of course, anything else that needed to be dealt with. Often, Council and Deacons met concurrently so that they could check in with each other if needed.
  • Elders team together (three panels of three elders) to coordinate ministry areas
  • Ideas for new ministries (from congregation members) would be referred to the Elder relationship area panel (and the full Session if necessary) for review as to whether they fit into CPC’s current mission/vision

Case E. Church on the Highway: Medium-Sized Program Oriented Church

  • If approved, the Elder panel will identify a task leader to create a taskforce for implementing the program
  • If no leader or volunteers can be found for an approved taskforce, the program is not implemented
  • Ministry Initiation Form is completed by congregation member or group desiring to implement a new ministry, event or “task”
  • Ministry Status Reports include:
    • Submitted by Task Leader to Elder Relationship Area Panel
    • Monthly Status Reports when there is an activity or issue to be resolved
    • Ministry Completion/Annual Report at the completion of a short-term ministry task, or annually for long-term and on-going ministries

 

 

4 thoughts on “Agile Church: Slides and Case Studies

  1. Robert Braxton

    Not just in technical (computer programming – I love “Dilbert”) but any “secular” stories I am always seeing applicability (or warning) to the church situation. These cases are helpful.

    Reply
  2. Elaine

    I love this idea and can live with the ambiguity and messiness that comes with an agile leadership base. The small rural church I serve is quite “stuck” in thinking out of the box. Their favorite phrase is “what did we do last last year”. Before they could even attempt to get their heads around this concept…they need to learn how to dream and learn to begin to initiate ideas on their own and not rely solely on the pastor for all inspiration and creativity.

    Ideas how this might flow in this size church verses the mid-program size churches? I know from reading (ok…lurking) that you are working on this where you serve. From what I read, the leadership already has an openness to new ideas and a capacity to “think differenly” than only “decently and in order”. thanks.

    Reply
    1. MaryAnn

      That’s a good question… someone asked that in the workshop too. The only thing I can think is to find that one pocket where change is possible and start there. Maybe there’s just one person, or a couple of people, who’d like to do things differently. Don’t try to flip everything all at once.

      Reply

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