Efficiency is not our highest goal

If you are all about efficiency, the fastest way to get most things done is get one bloke, with one thing to do, and let him get on and do it. He can okay his own work, he can crack on with whatever he wants to do, he can do it straightaway and get going on it. If speed is what you’re after, get one person without a committee and let them get something done.

But sometimes there are processes we need to go through. And let’s make no bones about it, sometimes processes can be clunky. Sometimes they are frustrating. But there is usually a reason why we need to go through them. It doesn’t mean the process can’t be refined, streamlined or (in some cases) done away with altogether. But there is typically a reason it is there.

In the church, the fastest way to get stuff done as a pastor is to take unilateral decisions. Decide everything, on your own and then get it done. If efficiency is the only concern, or speed is of the essence, that is the way to do it. But usually, speed and efficiency are not the only – or even the main – considerations. We have people to take into account. The church doesn’t exist merely as a vehicle to get stuff done, it is a group of people bounded together in Christ who serve together in the cause of the gospel.

Let’s be honest, if efficiency was the main concern, the Lord wouldn’t have called us into the work of ministry. He could do all the work far more efficiently, speedily and without problem if we weren’t involved. He could zap whoever he wants into the kingdom apart from us and he could create perfect sanctification overnight if he so wishes. Much less mess and a whole lot faster. But he chooses not to do that because he has other considerations beyond speed and efficiency.

In the same way, we have other considerations in the church beyond speed and efficiency. Sometimes things are better done more slower and less well because that is how we are able to train somebody up. Sometimes things are better done with slow consultation because people care deeply about how it is done. Usually things are better done through collective discussions because participatory decision-making protects people from being scapegoated over any given decision.

Our process, in the church, typically protect us as leaders. Multiple leaders let us share the burden of responsibility. Proper discussions amongst the elders, and real consultation with the membership, mean that more people can be brought onboard with whatever it is we hope to do. These things might be slower, but there are always other considerations beyond speed.

Our highest goal in the church is not to do everything as quickly as possible. It may be frustrating when there is something we just want to get on and do that is being held up because we have to wait for approval or we are hanging on for a meeting that requires more people onboard. But in the end, we protect ourselves and we increase buy-in when we balance efficiency with due process.