Working for a church can be a very hierarchical environment. We have pastors, associate pastors, pastoral associates, faith formation directors, youth ministry coordinators, business managers, administrative assistance, volunteers, and so on. Everyone at the church knows who has the power and who has less power.
To have a successful ministry in church, we need that structure. We need hierarchy. Yet, sometimes, when we get caught up in the hierarchy, we forget that we need to find ways to help people feel empowered. Meaning, we need to give away power when they are ready for it. Just because you are not the pastor does not mean you do not have the power to do something. When people are empowered, they take true ownership of the ministry and can help take it to a whole new level.
It takes intentionality to build a culture of empowerment. Even simple things like how we use language and words make a difference. Here is what I mean: a hierarchical culture uses certain words and an empowerment culture uses other words.
Hierarchical Culture vs. Empowerment Culture
Planning vs. Visioning
Command-and-control vs. Partnering for performance
Monitoring vs. Self-monitoring
Individual responsiveness vs. Team responsibility
Pyramid structures vs. Cross-functional structures
Workflow processes vs. Projects
Managers vs. Coaches/team leaders
Employees vs. Team members
Participative management vs. Self-directed teams
Do as you are told vs. Own your job
Compliance vs. Good judgment
(From Ken Blanchard’s book, Leading at a Higher Level, pg. 72-73)
Subtle changes in our language and thinking make a huge difference. I have to work hard to think differently about the culture I am creating within my ministry.
Question: Have you ever experienced being in a ministry that had an empowerment culture? What was that experience like for you?