Project Management for Worship Ministry Leaders

The senior pastor pulls you aside and says, “We need to develop a plan for the future of the worship center of the church.”  Cool.

Except you have absolutely no idea what to do next.  The course in college or the worship conference seminar that prepared you for this task was . . . . none.

Does that mean you go out and hire a sound design consultant?  Should you hire an architect to give you some ideas?  Should you go sit in the auditorium and pray until a vision comes to you?  Is this your opportunity to eradicate the ghastly lavender paint behind the platform?

The answer is possibly “Yes” to all of these, but how you go about the process is super critical to the success of the project, your church’s health, your personal health, and the likelihood of you keeping your job!

Don’t worry.  I have been in the same place before.  Before you go out and stake your reputation on an idea (yes, I have done that – not a good idea), here are some things to consider.

1.  Pray for guidance.  Consult the Divine Project Manager, the Ultimate Creative who designed the entire world with a thought.

2.  Project Management is simply managing a temporary project (auditorium redesign, sound system overhaul, office redesign, etc.).  While this is a specific science, the principles are straightforward.

3.  Ask for help.  When I faced a similar decision God showed me a business individual in my church who actually trained project managers in the area.  He was an immense help.  Don’t be too proud to ask a business person for help.

4.  You need a plan.  Church leaders will want to pull something together and go for it, but your job is to cool their heels and help them to consider every decision carefully.  To do this you will need a clear plan.  Don’t wing it!

5.  Create a team.  On this team you will want to have experts from each key discipline necessary for the completion and success of the task.  In my case I needed creative minds, interior designers, construction experts, technical geeks, and others.

6.  Identify the stakeholders.  There are specific people in your church who have to approve something before it happens.  Some are obvious (the senior pastor, the finance team, the elder board chair), and some are not so obvious (the kitchen lady who has been there for 40 years, the anonymous millionaire who paid for the building you want to blow up/remodel to fit a style of worship he does not like).  Write these people down and don’t guess; know!

7.  Write a contract and make all of the stakeholders and team members sign it.  This may seem like lawyer paranoia, but, trust me, you will be glad you did this later.  The team members and stakeholders will push back on every restraint you put on a project and you need to be able to point to a document that has all of the guidelines in it: a document they signed.

8.  Understand the “Triple Constraint.”  Originally just three areas (Time-Scope-Cost), the “Triple Constraint” has now evolved into six areas:

  • Schedule – how fast the project needs to be completed
  • Resources – what physical materials and people skills you have on hand
  • Budget – how much money you want to spend
  • Quality – how good a job you want to do
  • Scope – how broad the project reaches (just one room or an entire building, etc.)
  • Risk – the balance between likelihood of success and the chance of failure

Every project is defined by answers to these six areas.  For instance, if you suddenly decide to rush the Schedule for the project, the Quality of project is going to drop.  If you want to rush the Schedule AND keep Quality high, you will have to boost the Budget.  If you end up boosting the Budget you stand greater risk of rejection of the plan by stakeholders.

When I was a leader at a previous church and helping to lead a major design discussion, some leaders decided to push the implementation of a particular feature faster than the constraints allowed.  After being warned of the implications of jumping ahead, they went ahead anyways.  Because they rushed the Schedule and did not raise the Budget, Quality dropped dramatically.  The Risk of dissatisfaction among the stakeholders and among the implementors was high, and that Risk became a reality when the project failed to be high quality.

9.  Do not take anything personally!  You have heard me say this more than once, but when you are leading a project every decision will feel like it is personally directed at you.  It isn’t.  Your job is not to be personally involved or even to make any decisions, but to simply hold the leadership and team members accountable for every decision they make.

Project management includes so many more things than these, but these points will give you a running start.

Anyone can lead a project.  You can do this!

Where in your life or job do you need to step back and employ some project management principles?

1 thought on “Project Management for Worship Ministry Leaders

  1. Hi Maurice,

    It’s always nice to see how project management is adopted in different sectors!

    About the stakeholder identification, you might be interested in reading this article on stakeholder analysis.

    Thanks for sharing!

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