I am wrestling with a concept I read in a book recently that is focused on management principles. The author states that it is necessary for a struggling corporation to get “the right people on the bus” if the organization is going to thrive. In other words, the right people need to be plugged into roles that fit their talent and expertise. I suspect it is common for corporations to find themselves with employees serving in roles that just don’t fit them. In this line of reasoning, the authors also argue that character is important. Getting the right people on the bus can be further defined then by assembling individuals with good motives and credible behavior.
The “Bus Principle” sounds great in theory. In a corporate setting, managers can hire or terminate individuals with some degree of freedom in order to put an effective team together. How can I apply the bus principle to my role as a minister in a church? There are of course a few humorous images that capture my imagination. (I will not share those!) Can such an idea apply to any organization that is largely dependent on a core of volunteers to accomplish its tasks?
I have two responses to the “Bus Principle” for churches…
• The church should pick up bus riders from all locations and for all reasons.
During my more twisted moments I have an image of assembling a church membership with people that I like. All of the grouches would be eliminated. Whiners are not allowed. Snobs are not permitted to be near the building. We would indeed have all of the right people on the bus, and much good would be accomplished.
Twisted is a good word… The church exists to embrace all people from all walks of life at all times. Grouches need the church. Whiners need a place to grow too. Grace must be extended to the snobs among us. The church should pick up bus riders from all locations for all reasons.
• The church needs the right people riding on the leadership bus.
Here is where the “Bus Principle” as it is articulated in the above mentioned book applies to churches. Larger churches of course have a lot of people on their staff teams. Hiring the right people that are gifted to fulfill their assigned task is obviously imperative. And there is no room for pre-Madonna’s on a church staff. I have known talented ministers who needed a good swift kick. Humility must carry the day. Humble servants are able to serve grouches, snobs, and even the most chronic of whiners.
The same ideal should be held onto for volunteer leaders. My longtime mentor often says: “The most willing volunteer is not always the most qualified person for the job.” His conclusion is correct. Churches need to be thoughtful as they place people in volunteer roles. Getting the right people on the bus applies in this case. Failure to follow such guidance can be damaging to the organization and particularly to individuals that are in need of what that church can offer. Get the right leaders on the bus in a church setting and no one will be thrown under the bus.
I will continue to wrestle with the “Bus Principle.” Churches are very unique groups with their own organizational pathologies. Striking the balance between being grace centered and task driven is an ongoing challenge. When I get it figured out, I suppose I can write a book! In the meantime, I recommend the book entitled: From Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Other Don’t, by Jim Collins.