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Leveraging is smart, cost-effective and fun

And it’s happening just in time for the Multichannel Church, as you move beyond Sunday and diversify your ministries in response to a changing cultural context.

So let’s talk about leveraging.

The basic concept is simple: with a lever, you can raise a load far larger than a direct lifting method can manage with equivalent output of energy. In terms of workflow, you hear concepts like
» Enter data once and have it populate many tables
» Write an article once and use it five times
» Give a talk, film it, and let people access it countless times on your Web site
» Use travel time to place phone calls and send e-mails (use the same hour twice)
» Communicate directly with, say, 10 people, give them tools to share with others, and have that one communication reach 100 people, then 1,000.

Let’s apply these concepts to the real life of churches.

Space

An early example of leveraging was multipurpose space.
By having movable furniture and walls, enable one room to
serve multiple constituencies: worship on Sunday, preschool
on weekdays, feeding ministry on Saturday. Some churches
can achieve the same results by replacing fixed pews with
movable chairs.

Now you can go farther. As you expand and diversify,
avoid buying or building additional space. Instead, rent
space, camp out (using a member’s workplace conference
room, for example) or use space in people’s homes. Many
startup congregations avoid owning space altogether.

Staff

Thanks to technology, it is possible to leverage staff time.
With e-mail, teleconferencing, text-messaging and mobile
tools, a pastor can be more available to constituents. I do
a lot of travel. With all of my files and productivity apps on
the Internet, I can work from anywhere. As a result, dead
time (like sitting in an airport lounge) becomes productive
time.

A pastor can make a hospital call,
pause for a few minutes in the hospital
lounge to answer e-mails and phone
calls, move on to a meeting, do another
bit of mobile office work, teach a class
— and not extend the work day, but
rather use time more efficiently.
Many ministers are old hands at such
efficiencies. Now extend them to other
staff, as well as to key volunteers. Start
holding staff meetings online as Web
conferences. Encourage some staff to
telecommute. Consider renting office
space and “hoteling” (allocating generic space as needed).

Program

Much of church life is face-to-face, and in many ministries
there is no substitute for people being together. But that
doesn’t apply to all ministries.
The results of leveraging are greater efficiency, holding
down costs, focusing staff members’ time and serving more
effectively without adding more hours to long days, and a
greater sense of engagement among constituents.

 

TOM EHRICH is a writer, church
consultant and Episcopal priest
based in New York. He is a founder
of the Church Wellness Project. His Web
site is morningwalkmedia.com.

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