Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Crossing the Line or Picking Up the Ball???

I just had an interesting talk with one of my co-workers. She has a church background and was sharing how her parents often “outsource” things that the church they attend needs done. Nothing “major” but things like the weekly bulletin, inserts, etc. She happily obliges when she has time but it was kind of impressive to me because my co-worker lives in Chicago… her parents live in Canada. But this IS the day of wonderful technology SO she can throw together the church bulletin and email it off to the church in time for printing!

She then shared with me that she recently visited home and accompanied her mother to the church office. While there she went ahead and knocked out the weekly bulletin, ran it through the Xerox machine and then sat down to fold to complete the task by folding them. She was almost finished when she was approached by the pastor of the church. The pastor asked her what she was doing and she said, “Well, I decided to go ahead and fold the bulletins for Sunday while I wait on my mother to finish up.”

Now, let’s just freeze here for a moment folks… especially all you pastors… would this not be a wonderful sight? To see someone walk in and just begin to serve? Would you stop them? Read on…

The pastor stared at my co-worker… horrified. “But that is Sister So-and-So’s ministry! Oh my, what will we do? That is her ministry!” My co-worker sat staring at the last bulletin which she had just folded. She began to apologize. The pastor took the stack and said, “I know what we’ll do, let’s just make a whole new batch of bulletins. She’ll never have to know!” The freshly folded stack of bulletins ended up in the trash can.

Can you say territorial? When she told me this story she was laughing however I was reminded of many situations where someone was bent out of shape when they felt their “ministry territory” had was trespassed on.

As a firm believer in team ministry and cross training, I believe it is imperative that every function have at least two people with the ability to execute that function with excellence. My husband Craig and I have a rule when it comes to any ministry position or function… “Never lead alone. Never do ministry alone. Always teach someone had to do what you do.”

It takes a secure person to actually follow through on this action. Many of our forefathers and mothers believed that keeping all of the knowledge to one’s self was “job security.” That day has come to an end.

As Christians, as leaders we shoot for excellence. Before I go from here, let me also say a word about “excellence.” Excellence is NOT perfection. Perfection is the quality or state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting. Excellence is doing the very best you can with what you have. We can become slaves to perfection. If perfection is what we strive for we will always be let down. There will ALWAYS be something left “wanting.”

Perfection is an ideal, but as with every ideal, it will vary from person to person. Once you think you have the market cornered you will be scooped by the next “big thing.” My co-worker represented the “next big thing.” As leaders we can either embrace the fact that territory may be crossed or we can remain in denial, doing things the same old way because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or admit that perhaps the way we have always done it has been trumped by a better, more efficient or more relevant way.

I posted a quote I came across recently that sums this topic up nicely, “In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer

Love and Blessings!


Deanna Shrodes said...

Tara, I know you know this, but this is SO prevalent in churches it's unreal. We had a sound man in a previous church who set the sound system his own unique way that nobody else could even turn it on or figure it out but him. The reason was so he could have total territorial control of the sound. Nothing could be done without him. We lost some good good people due to him. One time we had a master electrician who wired the entire Hershey building (a multi million dollar building/job) and he wanted to help us at church (for free!) and this sound man came out (he also did some electrical stuff in the church) and said to the man I will call the "Hershey man" and said, "don't do anything without my approval, etc. etc." and the Hershey guy was like, "okay, I do this for a living...I wire multi million dollar buildings, but WHATEVER..." and the sound guy was so awful to him with his territorial stuff that it turned the "Hershey" guy off and he ended up coming to my husband and saying, "Pastor, I love you and I love this church however, I will not do any electrical work for the church because I'm not going to put up with the sound guy's attitude. I don't need it. What I will promise is to do anything you need for your house, for free as a gift to you. But don't ask me to do the church. It's not worth what I have to put up with him..."

So we lost his "ministry" in the church of doing our electric work, but gained some awesome stuff for our house...which was nice I guess however Larry really wanted the parking lot lights rewired at the church and a bunch of other stuff he then had to pay DEARLY for. All because of an irritating territorial man.

There is a bright side to this. We are now in another church and don't have to put up with that anymore. :-)

Some churches are steeped in that territorial spirit and will just not move forward because of it. And pastors who coddle it? (Throwing the perfectly good bulletins away?) UGH!

Love ya, girl!

Johnnie said...

So true. When you don't let anyone learn to fill "your slot", or operate with you, you'll be stuck there forever. Unable to function in new the capacities that God is calling you up to.

- j -

Anonymous said...

LOL!! Our youth pastor was severely reprimanded in our former church because she got to church early on Communion Sunday and started pouring grape juice - which was someone else's "ministry" in the church. This woman got to church, found the cups already filled, and was very offended - even threatened to leave the church over it!!! I told our PW, "If this woman wants a ministry so bad, tell her to sign up for the nursery - we can always use more people in there!!"

I operate on the "getting hit by a bus theory." That is, would this ministry still go on if I were to be hit by a bus on my way home from work? If the answer is no, I immediately grab 2-3 people and start teaching them whatever it is they need to learn...