Eight years ago City Church Tallahassee started in the living room of the founding pastor’s childhood home. He began with 22 members. Today, the church has an average Sunday attendance of more than 1,200. Its membership is split between two campuses – a local high school auditorium and a legacy church plant.
By all traditional definitions, the church is meeting its evangelical mission and people are coming to the Lord.
However, internally, the church staff and organizational structure were not catching up to its growth. Put simply, City Church had to move from the “create and grow” stage to the “grow and sustain” stage. The concern of Pastor Dean Inserra was that if City Church remained on its current course, those departing the church would have outpaced those joining the church. In addition, staff would have burned out because of the diffused direction, while volunteers and church members would have lost focus.
The process Ergon Strategies undertook lasted four months, consumed hundreds of hours in consultative time and included both quantitative and qualitative assessments, seven group meetings with staff, and 20+ one-on-one meetings with staff members. These meetings and evaluation time helped identify the key issues facing City Church and the best ways to resolve them.
Ergon Strategies’ evaluation of City Church found a culture that had little vulnerability-based trust in the organization, which resulted in little to no constructive conflict on important church issues.
To address these issues, Ergon Strategies led the team through a series of exercises that resulted in six, staff-developed cultural commitments. To ensure that those commitments were woven into the fabric of the organization, Ergon Strategies taught the church staff how to consciously, almost in an exaggerated fashion, live out the cultural commitments until they became habits. In addition, Ergon Strategies committed to hosting quarterly follow-up group meetings for discussion and coaching
Today, staff at City Church reports recognizable changes in the culture, with real evidence that people are attempting to live out the six commitments.
Through more than 15 individual coaching sessions, Ergon Strategies provided the lead pastor with management models and tools to absorb back many of the responsibilities he had over-delegated. These include budget oversight, staff hiring and evaluations, and strategic decision-making. In addition, Ergon Strategies worked with the lead pastor to develop a new organizational structure to clear decision-making bottlenecks, create staff capacity through role clarity, and encourage more staff collaboration to eliminate ministry silos.
Ergon Strategies also assisted the lead pastor in clearing through modest and isolated staff resistance to the process and helped move the staff forward in a productive fashion.
Each position on the City Church staff now has a clear job description, along with defined roles and responsibilities. And Ergon Strategies led new training to equip City Church staff with tools for better communication and collaboration.
Because City Church is only eight-years-old, it was believed by church staff that strategy was known, clear and being executed consistently. However, it became quickly apparent that the church “strategy” was really a church “rallying cry.” As a result, any and all ministries and programs could be and were created, consistent with the rallying cry. There was not enough thought given to “the why” of what was being done or the resources necessary to do them. In addition, the various staff assessments and interviews revealed that the City Church team was great at getting things done, but lacked a unifying strategic course to determine priorities and resource allocations.
As a result, Ergon Strategies worked to clarify and put additional meat on the bone of the church’s strategy. Eight facilitated sessions were completed, resulting in three strategic pillars. From these pillars emerged tactical drivers – this is the “how” behind the “why.” Supporting these strategic pillars and tactical drivers was the infrastructure support – the tangible assets (budget, staff, volunteers, facilities, technology, etc.) needed to implement the tactics and to fulfill the strategy.
All of this has become a filter for decision-making and makes it easier to prioritize the stewardship of funds, the allocation of staff time and the continuation, addition or elimination of programs and ministry areas.
The internal functionality, culture and focus of City Church now match the vibrancy of the church’s work externally. In short, the process was a success and the staff is now better aligned to get the work done effectively and efficiently, in a culture that is more productive, healthy and, frankly, just more fun.
At the same time, every area of the church is being evaluated for consistency with the strategy and mission – allowing resources to be freed up to best meet the needs of City Church's congregation and local community. However, it is important to note that follow-through continues and Ergon Strategies will be there to support them every step of the way … because success is a journey, not a declaration.