My college education provided me with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology. It was my dream to be a doctor some day, that is, until I took organic chemistry. I nearly failed the class. I was bummed, but knew that I still wanted to be in the medical field, so I redirected my studies to medical technology. Using that degree, I worked in three different hospitals over the course of 10 years. I learned a lot during those years, but one thing I learned (and depended on) was the importance of policies and procedures. No test was run on a machine, no work was done, without first consulting the procedures manual. If we didn’t follow those procedures, our work would fail. We would be ineffective.
As I studied for the ministry, worked in various churches, and networked with other pastors, I learned that churches are shy in the area of policies and procedures. For many churches, these manuals just do not exist. It’s no one’s fault. A pastor doesn’t go to seminary to learn how to write procedure manuals. It’s not the pastor’s job. However, it’s apparent that churches need someone to focus on these. These manuals become recipes for efficient leadership because they provide clarity, direction, and instruction to get things done.
Obviously, the Bible wasn’t written to argue that churches need to have policy manuals, but we see examples of policies and procedures in the Bible. The Law of the Old Testament is filled with policies and procedures for the people of God. An example of this includes the observance of the Passover Lamb. The policy stated by God was that an unblemished lamb was to be sacrificed once a year in obedience to the Lord. The procedure for how this was to be accomplished was outlined for the people in Exodus 12.
As we flip to the New Testament, a great example of the importance of policies and procedures is found in Jesus’ explanation of the cost of discipleship in Luke 14:28-33. In his desire to illustrate the cost of discipleship, Jesus considers how men would plan to build a tower. He says that the first step for building a tower is to take into consideration the costs associated with such a project, (v. 28). If the builder does not take this first step, then he will not be able to complete the project. Similarly, a king must first determine if he has the manpower to take on another nation in war, (v. 31). Again, the downside of not following this first crucial step is failure.
I may have belabored the point, but that was not my goal. Simply, I wanted to give examples of how policies and procedures were used even in Bible times. This is the first of three posts about policies and procedures. My argument is that these tools will help ministry leaders have a clear picture of where they are going and how to get there. They are tools that will help us to be not only efficient, but effective, leaders. In the following posts, I will explain the difference between policies and procedures, then I will describe the place for them in the church.