Move It Forward!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Comments: 0

Dear Pastor

Move It Forward!

Last week I described two types of Leadership for those of us who lead Churches namely Spiritual Leadership (Type 1) and Organisational Leadership (Type 2). I noted that they are distinctly different. Today I want to talk about organisational inertia.

But let me begin by reminding you of Newton’s first ‘law of motion’. “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.

So when we apply this to our church organisations it usually means this: When asked why we are doing things, we will often respond with some variation of “we’ve always done it that way.” And when we propose alternatives to a small but clearly improvable inefficiency, the answer is typically something like, “It’s just how it’s set up.”

Organisational inertia is present in all organisations. We all have the tendency to continue doing things as we have always done them. From a young age, we incorporate habits into our behaviours that enable our own personal “auto-pilot” and alleviate the need to think about what we are doing. No one wants to reinvent the wheel all the time; it is much easier to simply repeat what we learned in prior scenarios. The same thing happens in organisations; we call this organisational inertia.

One way to address this ‘same same’ conundrum is to intentionally take a long and deep look into everything you do. All ministries, all systems and even your organisational structure should be reviewed regularly.

Here’s an idea. Decide on one of your core ministries and then over the remainder of this year do a comprehensive review with this key question in your mind:- how can we move this ministry forward? What must we do to overcome the inertia that has well and truly settled in? This is the ‘external force’ that Newton’s law is talking about when applied to an organisation, any organisation.

Organisational inertia is present in all organisations

What I find interesting and troubling all at the same time is how often lay leaders in a church, many of whom work in ever changing, agile and VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complexity, ambiguity) business environments Monday through Friday are often the very same people who accept the status quo at church no matter how ineffective or even dysfunctional it may be and resist the need to address the organisational inertia that is within. It’s a strange phenomena to be honest.

Pastors, today I want to encourage you to be bold and courageous and address the organisational inertia that you are experiencing. Can I encourage you to allocate about 10% of your working week, every week to think, pray and then action a plan to move a ministry or department forward to greater effectiveness and fruitfulness. Develop a low tolerance to ‘same same’. Over the next year or so take a deep dive into your next generation ministries, Sunday mornings and outreach ministries to name just three of any church’s core ministries. Four hours a week every week for the next year is about 200 hours of applying a little ‘external force’ to activity that really matters for eternity. Do it thoughtfully, do it carefully but please do it.


Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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