Steve Tibbert shared this very helpful picture for us at Leadership Training last week. It has since been discussed among our leaders...
The Church planter might be seen as runner or swimmer. He has freedom to run at his own pace and make decisions as he feels will work. Independent/relational people love this stage as it allows the leader to develop close friendships with his small flock.
As the Church grows, the leadership team grows. In the early days of a church the team could be seen as golf buddies. Highly relational, informal and playing with friends. A leisurely pace and similar skills flow from the golf course into the bar! For a highly relational pastor this may be the most enjoyable phase.
If the Church continues to grow, the leadership team will grow. When you have more than four people, you cannot all play together. The team will need to transition from golf buddies to more of a basketball team. A bigger team requires more formal communication, more effective teamwork and trust between team members. You cannot be best friends with everyone on the team because there are too many players for that. The relationships are different.
A basketball team will have a couple of star players who the rest of the team build around. Players will play in specific positions and some may be left on the bench. This can be painful but usually players are flexible enough to play in different positions. This can be the most enjoyable phase for the entrepreneurial leaders.
When the leadership team/staff increases to 15, 25 or even 50 people the game changes completely. Many find this unsettling especially those who prefer golf or basketball. Now the leadership team look more like an NFL team.
Players are not interchangeable, roles are highly specialised and the weight on the individual team member increases. Players can't and don't know all that is going on in different areas. Players generally stay in specific units with different coaches and different playbooks. The quality of what is produced for the city is improved. Resources increase and the potential to shape culture increases. Some team members can feel left out or insignificant. Some won't be able to make the change and some won't want to. The team have no choice. Will they put pads on? Retire? Or get run over?
If these changes are not recognised it can lead to relational overload for the leader. He may try to play the wrong sport with too many people. It may also lead to communication breakdown. More formal, intentional and direct communication will be needed as the team grows. As the leadership team grows, the decision making process will have to change. To avoid a bottleneck, eventually the team with have to narrow the people in decision making.
I feel as a Church we are beginning to transition from golf buddies to a basketball team. We are trying to play our players in positions which will suit them best and serve the Church most effectively.