I felt a little tired.
The meeting was fine, nothing unusual. Still, something lingered in my heart and mind. Not the keep you up at night kind of thing. Just that vague sense of the important-but-undone. Well, actually more like the important-but-undefined.
The next morning, it only took me twenty minutes. But I felt much, much better.
What made the difference? I spent the time writing a summary of the “problem” in the form of a project proposal. A very limited proposal. More sketch than anything else. But it had the necessary elements to move me from grey to green.
Here’s two quick aspects of church project proposals that can propel you from good concern to helpful action.
1 – Build a Common Structure
It doesn’t matter what your structure is, but you need one. And it needs to be everyone’s structure. The main reason projects in the church bring so much angst is because everyone starts, runs, and completes them with varying steps, language, and sense of when we’ve done the thing we said we were going to do. While that kind of personalization works okay for project leaders, staff in more than one project group will be living in chaos. And senior leaders will have a very hard time making sure things are moving forward across the ministry. Projects are the place we collide or collaborate. It’s really our choice. A common structure sets us up well for the latter.
2 – Include These Key Components
Projects are really just opportunities to leverage people’s skills and perspectives toward the common good. So, right away we’ve hit the two biggest components of any project proposal: team and outcomes.
Get the right people in the room. Clarify the future win.
Not everyone needs to be in every project, but every project needs the right people. And the win is not simply the completion of the project. We’re more concerned with how the completion of the project will positively affect God’s people and His Kingdom purposes. In fact, the longer and more complex the initiative, the more potent the future win should be. Otherwise we’re investing much for something much less.
Okay, team and outcomes. What’s left?
Timeline. Steps. Budget. Potential hurdles to overcome. List these as bullets, not paragraphs. Enough to get the party started but not close it down before anyone arrives.
A first swipe at a project proposal (a v1 in Flow language) doesn’t need to be comprehensive. It just needs to call the right people to the right cause, with a simple outline of the right next steps. And it will absolutely help you shift some unnecessary weight off your shoulders.
“… it had the necessary elements to move me from grey to green.”
Church isn’t about projects. It’s about God, His purposes, and His people. Well, surprise. It’s filled with all of the above.
Establishing a common project proposal structure with these basic components will get you moving toward the things that matter and joyfully accomplishing them in greater unity.
For more thoughts on project management in the church and real-world examples, see Flow – Chapter 3-4 and Appendix B.