In every group or organization, there are unwritten rules. Even in church organizations. I am reminded of this daily through observances and conversations. It is something that most know, but very few pay attention to unless they are directly affected by it. In this post, I want to point out a few categories that these unwritten and sometimes unspoken rules fall into. For the pastor of the small church which may not have much in the way of formal organization, leading through these unwritten rules is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
First up is the foundation that all the unwritten rules create. Culture is probably the most explicit way for people to understand and discuss the unwritten rules. Peter Drucker is attributed with the saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Many pastors and church leaders are often frustrated with a lack of progress when they implement their big plans. Basically, the unwritten rule of “How we do things around here” undermines any strategy. If your plan does not account for the culture of your church or group, it most likely will fail.
While unattentiveness to culture may frustrate a pastor’s plans for whatever, unwritten expectations are destructive. A church may or may not have a written list of expectations or duties for the pastor, but they all have expectations that are not articulated. These range from attendance at events, evangelistic efforts, pastoral care, preaching ministry and more. These rules become highly problematic as they tend to become unrealistic demands. When a person is then held accountable in the person’s mind or publicly, they are blindsided and left confused as to what happened.
How do you change the unwritten rules?
- You have to become aware of them.
- They need to be addressed humbly and candidly discussed.
- Solutions presented, accepted, and implemented.
- Accountability and reflection.
What unwritten and unspoken rules have you come across?