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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

11 May '11

Scalability and growth

Posted by T.J. Addington in organizational culture, problem solving, systems
A secret of successful ministries is that they understand and build scalable systems that allow for growth rather than non scalable systems that stifle growth.

I remember doing a consultation for a church of 1,000+ and discovered in talking with the elders that they provided all the care for those in the congregation who were hurting. And, they were tired! What they had was a non scalable system for care because nine folks cannot provide care for a growing church. A scalable system of care would be where the care function resides in small groups which are easily reproducible as the church grows. 

In youth work, a non scalable system is one where the youth leader personally disciples all the kids. A scalable system is one where the youth leader raises up a team and designs ministry paradigm that allows for any level of growth because it does not all come back to him/her.

A simple test to give you an idea as to whether your paradigms are scalable is this: Ask the question, "If the numbers involved in what we are doing were to double or triple, could our current system accommodate those numbers? If the answer is no you have a non-scalable system. If yes, you likely do.

The reason we should care about this is that non-scalable systems will become a barrier to growth and we might not even know it. The youth worker who tries to personally disciple all his/her kids, may not realize that once their available time is used up as the group grows that growth might just stop as new kids realize that they won't get what they need in that group. Whatever the ministry responsibility we have, if it is not scalable, it will prevent the growth we desire and limit the spiritual influence we have.

As the leader of a missions agency, we constantly have to ask the question of scalability in recruiting, vetting, training, and the many systems within the organization. It is not unusual for us to realize that some system we have is not scalable and needs to be rethought. Everything we and you do in ministry has a system. Some systems are scalable and invite growth. Some are not and stifle growth.