Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Pat Macmillan, in "The Mission-Directed Ministry Team," RTS Ministry, Winter 1994, quotes Peter Senge: "When a team becomes more aligned, a commonality of direction emerges, and individuals' energies harmonize. There is less wasted energy. In fact, a resonance or synergy develops."

To achieve that powerful alignment among the individuals on a team, the stated mission must meet four criteria:

1. Relevant. I want it.

2. Significant. It's worth it.

3. Achievable. I believe it.

4. Clear. I see it.

Macmillan goes on: "Don't assume that the benefits are as clear to others as they are to you. Don't gloss over the pragmatic elements of the team mission and the goals that flow out of it with eloquent generalities. Cooperation based on warm fuzzies, cliches and platitudes will soon break down."

Interestingly, he also notes that it's the individuals who are just a little out of alignment who blunt the effectiveness of the team. People who are way off are obvious. It's the not-quite-there people who are more difficult to discern but who make the task tedious.

"A clear, certain mission . . . serves as a gyroscope providing stability and allowing the team to maintain its footing and sense of direction in turbulent, fast-changing environments. It provides boundary lines in which the team can set realistic, but exceptional, goals. It also enables the team to monitor and evaluate progress."

My own experience has shown that an under-defined church structure, however well-intended, creates friction which then tends to be interpreted by individuals involved in moral and relational categories. But if the problem is basically structural, and we call it what it is and fix it on that basis, we can be more patient and understanding with one another personally.

Alignment matters.