With immense love... how many church members does it take to change a light bulb?
No, really. All kidding aside here. Is it something that anyone can do? Or does it require filling out forms? Perhaps a committee?
Yes, a little absurd and over the top, but a satirical article in the Babylon Bee used this example to point to a more serious cycle that many churches and ministries are caught up in.
As the article explains, a church deacon noticed a faulty light bulb in the church’s foyer area. He turned in the required “light bulb change request” paperwork for discussion at the next business meeting. After some cancellations due to winter weather, a meeting finally took place and the members voted unanimously to change the bulb. Now, as the article reports, all that needs to be done “is pass a vote to create a light bulb committee, elect a committee chair, and then get out of the way and let them do their job.”
Sound familiar? Sure it does.
Churches and ministries want, and in fact need, to be accountable. After all, they should be good stewards of the resources they have received—often people’s hard-earned donations.
So, there is usually some type of management hierarchy, perhaps a Board of Governors. Often, a manual is created with procedures and forms. It makes sense because, again, it’s not a one-person show. It’s not a ‘you-based’ organization. It’s a God-based one.
Clearly, though, there can be some overkill. And that’s what we’re talking about here. Situations which are out of balance. In other words, despite your place on the church spectrum, how often does your approval process cost you more than the relative cost of the item you are voting to approve?
Let’s go back to the light bulb for just a minute or two…
Picture a church foyer. A modest, 5-light chandelier hangs at the center with one dark bulb. At the moment, an energy saver light bulb to fit that light fixture would cost between $10-20.
Now picture the business committee meeting. Five people sit around a table. Each has donated the time to travel to church and back home (let’s call it a 30 minute round trip) + the meeting time—perhaps somewhere between 1-2 hours. At a minimum, that’s about 8 people hours. The table they are seated around has coffee, tea, water, juice and two kinds of cookies. Someone took the time to buy those items and set them up—more people time.
All this time has a cost: time away from work, family, hobbies and rest; time which could have be spent spreading the Good Word and/or ministering to those in need…..not to mention the cost of the refreshments. (Now we are kidding...a little.)
Granted, the meeting may deal with other things besides a faulty light bulb but how many of those things are similar?
So, does this approach serve our goals? We suggest that it does not and would like to propose a path in addition to the committee methodology which, again, IS an appropriate one for big and/or relatively expensive decisions.
Another way for consideration.
Let’s call it “Short and Simple”: a protocol in place to make quick decisions—which are cheap relative to your resource budget—without affecting your general governance policies and procedures.
A category where Short and Simple would work excellently is new ideas, especially adoption of digital technologies and strategies.
The Short and Simple procedure could be something like this:
This protocol allows you to maximize your goals by facilitating a lot of free, or minimal cost, trials and errors. In addition, it frees up a lot of people time that can be spent doing more relevant things to build God’s kingdom.