The Power of Process (part 2 of 2)

A process is a set of interrelated activities that interact to achieve a result.

In my last post on this topic, I shared this definition of a process and acknowledged the top two reasons why we are suspicious of implementing them in the church:



I also shared that processes are expressed through systems. Systems are not artificial: they are what cause your body to function. Processes/systems in Christ's Body do the same. Without them, we are "dysfunctional".

In this post I want to reveal a volunteer placement process from the pages of the New Testament and to share the 2 factors exposed there that must be present if a process is going to be healthy.

In the opening of Acts 6, we see a need for volunteers that was becoming chronic: more volunteers were needed to insure the widows from Greece were getting enough food in the distribution. The apostles were leaders with a dilemma: "Should we add this to our growing list of personal responsibilities? We don't even have time to recruit these volunteers!". 

In the language of today's topic, the apostles performed a leadership function and initiated a process. The process was elegant in its simplicity:

  1. Define what the job description was (serve food to the Grecian widows at tables-vs 2)
  2. Discern what the qualifications were for this volunteer position (men full of the spirit and who possessed wisdom-vs 3)
  3. Communicate these qualifications to those in the church who identified the need-vs 3.
  4. Ask them to recruit the volunteers-vs 3-5
  5. Pray for them and lay hands on them to authorize these volunteers to do the job-vs 6.

The result of this healthy process? 

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. -Acts 6:7

There are two factors revealed here that make a process healthy and organic, just like the processes in the human body.

1. The process is based on need.

The process the apostles designed and implemented was not based on preferences, politics or privilege. It was based on a need. It was critical that the Grecian widows not be neglected when food was distributed. A process that didn't need to be managed was essential given the apostle's function in the Body. Which leads to the 2nd factor that makes for a healthy effective process.

2. The process is automatic.

By empowering those who brought the need to them, the apostles created a process that would continually work as long as the need existed....without their direct oversight. this is what I mean by automatic.

I was driving my daughter Carly home to California when her freshman year of college was over in Arizona. On the long drive home, I was discussing my thoughts with her about this blog post on processes (she can volley better than I can on most topics). She asked me, "Dad, how do you keep assimilation processes from becoming stale, cold and boring?" I answered, "By basing them on real needs, then making them automatic". I went on to explain that when guests fill out a connection card at our church...

  • Tuesday morning volunteers with computer ability and a gift of service enter them into Eastside Connect (our database morph of Church Community Builder). this happens automatically, every week
  • These guests are dropped into a first-time visitor process queue where they are automatically sent a email or letter from our Senior Pastor welcoming them and inviting them to First Step with Gene (Pizza with the Pastor). 
  • When they click on the link to register, they are automatically dropped into a queue to immediately receive a confirmation email and another "last minute details" email sent a few days before the event.
  • When they sign up for our 7-week First Step Experience at First Step with Gene, they are automatically dropped into another queue.
  • The same type of thing happens when people sign up to volunteer, join and attend our small groups, make a first time decision to follow Christ, or are baptized. All these processes are trackable and noted on people's profiles.

Carly said, "Wait a minute. You said they weren't stale and boring". I told her, "Because they're automatic, they're not. They are in place and running all the time. I don't have to think about them and neither do our guests at church. What I get to do is just be with them in Guest Central, visit with them over pizza, enjoy them at the First Step Experience. These processes help move them from the auditorium to First Step and ultimately to a small group or volunteer team".

I went on to tell her how her body and mine have healthy processes that work the same way: automatically and invisibly. I asked her...

  • When was the last time you willed your heart to beat or your lungs to take in air?
  • Did you decide or try to grow in height when you were in elementary school?
  • Did you have to eat because you knew you should or because you were hungry?
  • Did a fire burn you because you knew it was hot or because you felt it was hot?
Just like our nervous system, circulatory system, digestive system, endocrine system and respiratory system keep the processes that accomplish these things happening automatically, your church Body needs automatic, need-based processes to be healthy and help guests become connected serving members.

Our volunteer onboarding process for our Kidside ministry has 5 steps to it, including background checks. That didn't make it stale for Mike-it helped him make a difference in the lives of kids.

Healthy processes. They worked to onboard Mike as a Kidside volunteer at my church. They worked to provide volunteers to feed the hungry in the church of the first century.

What are healthy processes providing for your church right now?

  • Where are some of your key process breakdowns at your church?
  • What tool do you use to help create processes? (EX: Church Community Builders)
  • What other processes to you see in the life of the early church, especially in Paul's letter? (Don't miss the process Jesus designed for dealing with division in the church in Matthew 18:15-17)
  • If you were to pick just one need-based process to design and automatize for assimilating guests, what would it be?