Kingdom Leadership After Lakeland Part 3-Addendum #4: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-How Do We Fix a Leaky Boat, and Who Can Best Lead in Doing So?

If you haven’t read Addendum #3 yet, start with that. This post won’t make sense without it …

Hey – not fair to raise the question without sharing any kinds of answers. So, how do we “fix the boat”?

There are many Church Management Systems (i.e., database systems) available, and some help with a selection of the lower-level needs in getting systems fixed. However, there are no major systems-oriented tools and resources in place that I know of which help with systems design – not just systems data tracking – and will also help prepare for eventual paradigm shifts and cultural transitions.

However, I know something cool that will be available relatively soon, because they’re tools I’ve worked on in during my freelance writing/editing job the past 16 months. I debated with myself about whether to talk about them here, or the timing of talking. But since my work ends in a few weeks and the programmer will finish things up, I didn’t feel it was a huge ethical misstep to share this information now instead of later. It fits with the issues of reconstruction of systems and this seems to be the time to finish this post, so there it is … and here it is.

If you are interested in details, check out the “mobilyzr system.” My work with PLACE Ministries and mobilyzr.comhas been to prepare background documents for launching a seamless suite of online tools with a difference – they guide users through systems design that stabilize their organization’s ministry systems, strategies, and structures. In fact, one of the purpose statements for the mobilyzr/PLACE product suite is to build or rebuild your ministry mobilization systems, so you are poised for a more productive future.

The website is still in beta-testing mode, but two very helpful downloads are available already. I believe they provide valuable guidance for when leaders are ready to reconstruct ministry systems and infrastructures on an organic basis. They will also prove immensely helpful to leaders of new churches, agencies, and networks as they construct their systems holistically from scratch, building in infrastructures that should prevent problems that typically happen later when the organizational systems have gaps and excesses.

Are You Committed? Connecting God’s People to Meaningful Ministry gives chapter summaries from a book written by Jay McSwain, Founder of PLACE Ministries and This book comes out of Jay’s experiences in over 10 years of helping people identify their “PLACE” in ministry through understanding their personality, spiritual gifts, best work environments, demonstrated passions, and life experiences. He found that many people who take the PLACE assessment get very excited about discovering where they fit in ministry … and then get very discouraged when church and ministry staff members or volunteers leaders don’t know how to connect them into ministry. Many church ministry systems are absent or deficient for all the reasons talked about earlier in this post.

So Jay developed a comprehensive, integrated process that starts with getting people’s giftings identified; then connecting potential volunteers into a meaningful ministry that is appropriate to their spiritual maturity level; and then customizing the equipping, empowering, and encouraging of them in ways that fit their unique providential design; and then working towards multiplying volunteers through them. The summaries overview the entire set of values and processes needed for sustainable systems in mobilizing volunteers.

You cannot implement this kind of process unless you address a whole series of processes, procedures, and tasks. So, the article What Does the “Model mobilyzr Church” Look Like? takes the principles from Jay’s book and systematizes them into sections on Core Values, Sustainable Systems, Customization, Tracking Changes, and Budgeting Consistency. You can use this as a beginning- to intermediate-level systems checklist to evaluate how you’re systems are doing. Soon-to-be-launched mobilyzr online Evaluations will help pinpoint detailed strengths and weaknesses in each of the six mobilization process elements: connecting, identifying, equipping, empowering, encouraging, and multiplying. Results for each evaluation questionnaire will include recommended resources for fixing any “leaks” and then maintaining the overall system.

My job has included writing materials like these two articles, filling in details for Jay’s concepts, developing related products, and creating implementation guides to use the tools seamlessly as a suite. My favorite piece of work has been developing the Ministry Guide. If all goes according to plan, this tool will help leaders capture current organizational structure and let them experiment with changing the structure in various ways for greater clarity and/or flexibility. It will also guide leaders in how to adapt ministry job descriptions for team-based approaches where team members take on multiple roles, instead of the more typical approach of one person taking one role.

Anyway, I designed the Ministry Guide to be adaptable to a broad range of organizational styles, methodological models, and situations for churches that are just about anywhere along the journey toward a more productive future. I’ve appreciated working with Jay – he’s very future-oriented and big-picture. Since I’m a futurist, detailed, and an organizational systems developer, it’s been a great match. I’m really looking forward to seeing how these tools help in Kingdom enterprises!

So, anyway, soon there will be a mobilyzr system of online databases, assessment tools, and resources to help identify and fix “leaks” in our organizational boats, and otherwise get them ship-shape for the new-world paradigm seas ahead. But these two downloads can get you started. And even if you don’t use the mobilyzr suite, at least consider what it says about the importance of systems for stabilization before you attempt any major kind of cultural transition or paradigm shift.

Speaking of which …

Who is providentially best equipped to lead the way in fixing the boat and launching it into new paradigm waters?

That’s the detailed subject of forthcoming posts in this series. However, if you want a preview of the kinds of people who are (super)naturally gifted to lead in systems operations, check out my page on Interpolators – interdisciplinary, intercultural people who represent a median point between our current culture and our goal of “Kingdom Culture.” Intepolators can role model what a next stage of transformation looks like for us, because they already embody more of that Holistic Paradigm and the values, thinking, and lifestyles that are indigenous to it.

So, as those who process information holistically and integratively, Interpolators come by their systems orientation more organically; it’s native to the ways they already think. But does that mean they are the only types of people qualified to lead the way in “fixing our leaky boats” and launching them into new paradigm seas? I don’t think so. But instead of me detailing what other groups of people I think are a match for that role, how about a DIY Section?

Thought you’d never ask …

Who is Best Equipped to Lead?

A Guided Do-It-Yourself Project

Who else is best equipped to lead beside Interpolators? I believe we get some fascinating clues from Scripture by using a “macro-history” approach – looking for cycles, patterns, and trends by studying similar situations that occur in different historical eras. Specifically, I’m going to suggest taking a look at a series of times when Israel and the Church was undergoing particularly dramatic social changes.

As one macro-pattern, I’d suggest we find that God raises up young adults – both women and men – for unique, history-shaping roles during times of social upheaval. It’s my conclusion that most of these young adults come from a bicultural or multicultural background. We are also introduced to them along with their older-generation mentor(s) and peers. Why is this pattern evident? What is the significance of having bicultural/multicultural people at historic junctures where mentors and peers can help or hinder the choices they are called upon to make?

So, as a do-it-yourself project, think through the personal background and the cultural situation of at least some of the following people (not all are teens or twenties when we meet them, but many are):

  • Barnabas
  • Daniel
  • David
  • Esther
  • Jeremiah
  • Lydia
  • Mary the mother of Jesus
  • Ruth
  • Timothy
  • Titus
  • Who else would you add to this list who seem to fit the criteria of bicultural/multicultural?

For each one, make some notes about the following details:

  • In what ways are they “in-betweeners” – bicultural or multicultural people? Is it their ethnicities, races, parents’ national origins, economic class, countries or citizenships, and/or other factors?
  • Who are their older-generation mentors?
  • In what ways, if any, are their mentors multicultural?
  • Who are their same-generation peers?
  • In what ways, if any, are their peers multicultural?
  • What was the specific situation or hinge-point in history where they providentially found themselves? What monumental decision did they have to make? Were they the first one whom God asked, or just the first one who said “yes,” or does the text not tell us?

Now, consider this dataset as a whole:

  • What patterns do you notice about their personal backgrounds as a set of people?
  • What patterns do you notice about in their cultural situations/settings?
  • What kinds of things do their mentors and peers help or hinder them in addressing?
  • What do you think might be some of God’s purposes in raising up people with these kinds of profiles at those particularly dramatic hinge-points in history? What do Scriptures say about this explicitly, if anything? What extrapolations or principles do you draw theologically from the narrative accounts?
  • How do you think intercultural sorts of people could help in your own organizational system situation, cultural transition, or paradigm shift? And why?
  • What if these people are younger than you? What if they are older?
  • What specific skills would a cultural transition/paradigm shift leader need?
  • What other qualifications would such a leader need, in addition to the specific skills you just listed?
  • What additional questions do you think could/should be asked to help analyze patterns in this dataset and make applications to contemporary situations of cultural/paradigm shifts?

Series Links ~ Kingdom Leadership After Lakeland

  1. Part 1: Discernment and the Costly Descent into Darkness
  2. Part 2: Considering Various Sources …
  3. Part 3: Seven Critical Lapses in Leadership and an Appeal to Own Our Responsibilities
  4. Part 3 – Addendum #1: Notes, Quotes, and Questions on Reconstructing Authority
  5. Part 3 – Addendum #2: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-Six Trends Toward Systems Solutions
  6. Part 3 – Addendum #3: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-When Churches are Like Leaky Ships, How Do We Fix the Boat?
  7. Part 3 – Addendum #4: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-How Do We Fix a Leaky Boat, and Who Can Best Lead in Doing So?