By: Tim Massengale
We now come to the final step of the Four Part Planning Process. This is the “Plan Accountability Stage.” It is in this area that often the greatest mistakes are made. It is also what pastors and church leaders tend to neglect the most. It must be realized that all the dreaming, organizing and planning is worthless if someone doesn’t actually do it. As was said earlier, “you never see the target a man aims at in life, you only see the target he hits.” This is where the talent of a
true leader is revealed: A true leader not only inspires and motivates, but he also supervises until completion. The Weekly Tag-in is a tool for that very purpose. It is a simple method that allows a pastor to maintain a “management check” on all that is taking place that month, and it only takes five minutes.
Pastor Tom Anderson had a real problem and he was at a loss for what to do. He had recently launched a new management program in his church that involved a Monthly Planning Council. Each month, he and his various department heads would meet in a reserved room at a neighborhood restaurant. After a light snack, they would begin to discuss as a group the various plans and goals of each department. During the course of discussion, Pastor Anderson often asked his directors to follow through with various directives and assignments. He was good at delegating . . . at least, good at asking someone to do something.
But his problem was this: Come the next Monthly Council several of his key directors repeatedly were neglectful in carrying out his requests. Oh, they always seemed to have a good excuse, but excuses were not getting the job done. Also, when time came for certain projects to take place, two or three items would be forgotten that he knew he had
told them about. They were constantly forgetting something.
Like the Sunday School picnic last month. When the children had arrived, the picnic tables were being used by another group. When he asked his Sunday School director if he had reserved the area, he had replied rather sheepishly that he had forgotten.
Another time his Ladies Auxiliary director was to reserve the American Legion Hall for the church potluck. When she came back to the Monthly Council the following month, she informed him it was already reserved on that date. The problem was, it was now so close to the date that it was doubtful they could find anything else available either. Why
hadn’t she told him sooner?
Pastor Anderson shook his head and sighed. “Brother, their procrastination and forgetfulness is driving me crazy. I spend half my time wondering if they’ve done their job or not. I might as well do it myself as worry about it. But I was taught that when you give a man a job, you should just trust him to do it and not bug him.”
Pastor Anderson’s problem is a common one when working with volunteers. Department directors usually work at a full-time job. They also have a family to look after and a home to keep up. Simply put, they are busy – very busy! For this and others reasons, volunteers often tend to lack the motivation needful to be consistent with their duties. On a secular job the motivation is simple: “Do the work or your fired.” This is not the case in the church. Although the
pastor can, and sometimes must, remove individuals from positions, it is not without considerable sorrow and frustration, both on the pastor’s part and the would-be leader. It would be much simpler if there was a method by which all directors could be motivated to do their responsibilities without a pastor constantly “nagging” them. As
Brother Anderson finally admitted, if a pastor has to continually push a person, he might as well do it himself.
THE WEEKLY TAG-IN
There is a way! If you remember from an earlier chapter, the proper definition of delegation is “learning how to identify the work that we are doing and devising methods of passing these pieces of work on to other people, but maintaining a management check on these activities.” The last part is the key. Ninety percent of pastoral delegation fails because the pastor does not maintain a “check” on the progress of the assignment or responsibility. This is what we call “accountability,” and “responsibility without accountability is total futility.” The concept of accountability is well established in the word of God. We will all “give an account” of our labors for God some day.
The Weekly Tag-in is an excellent method of accountability. It is not looked upon as “nagging” because it is a regularly scheduled meeting with all directors. It solves a number of problems and has several major benefits. A few of these are:
1. It will overcome procrastination. A major problem that pastors have with directors is procrastination. Studies show that less than five percent of our society is “self-motivated.” The other ninety-five percent need encouragement and urging to follow through. If left to their own discretion, the mind says, “I’ll do it next week. After all, I have an entire month to get it done!” The Weekly Tag-in eliminates this tendency. A director may tell you the first week, “I haven’t done it yet.” They may also say this the second week. But after the third week, excuses begin to sound weak and peer pressure begins to cause embarrassment. Come the fourth week, the task is almost always accomplished.
2. It will improve the quality of work performed. Work, when done in a hurry and rushed through at the last minute, is rarely done well. The Weekly Tag-in encourages directors to start early and do the job right. It helps the director to plan his time well so that he does not feel overburdened with responsibility. Many pastors have observed that the directors who leave their position because they “didn’t have the time” or “the job was too big” were individuals who were habitual procrastinators and did not know how to manage their time. Again, to fail to plan is to plan to fail. When the director is doing only one task at a time and that task is done right, they feel good about themselves, the work of God, and their self-worth to the church.
3. It improves the Monthly Planning Council attendance. The Monthly Council develops a very subtle “peer pressure” relationship among the directors. No one likes to look bad in front of his peers. For this reason, a pastor should never scold a director at the Monthly Council – it’s the quickest way to cause them to resign, and even leave the church.
But actually, a pastor should never need to. By asking them if this or that job was done, their having to admit neglect or failure is all that’s normally needed.
But this can also work against you. If a director has not done their duties, they can usually find an excuse to not be there, because they don’t want to look bad. The Weekly Tag-in usually eliminates this problem. In fact, when they have all their duties accomplished, they want to be there, because they know that in front of all their friends, you are going to compliment them on a job well done. This is a powerful motivator.
4. It gives you a chance to solve problems and answer questions. Invariably during the month the director is going to come up against a problem that will stall their progress. The director will usually try to talk to the pastor about it. But because the pastor is so busy and difficult to pin down, one of two things normally happens: they will make their own decision as to the solution (this can be good or bad, depending upon the director’s wisdom) or they will do nothing until the next Monthly Council. The later is most often the case. Few directors have an abundance of self-confidence. The problem is, that task needed to be completed that month. Next month could be too late. The Weekly Tag-in gives the director a consistent channel of communication to ask questions and solve problems. This alone is reason enough to have one.
5. It utilizes the pastor’s time most effectively and frees him from worry. This last benefit is, by far, the greatest. As pastor Anderson stated, “If I’m going to worry about it all month, I might as well do it myself.” When a pastor delegates a responsibility, he needs to forget about it so he can concentrate upon the task of pastoring. Yet, if he is not careful, in the back of his mind will be that nagging doubt as to their faithfulness. The Weekly Tag-in eliminates
this also. Imagine, after a two hour Monthly Council, a pastor can totally forget about all administrative matters (well, almost all) and devote himself entirely to being a pastor, not a manager. This is what God called him to do. The key to this is a simple five minute Weekly Tag-in. When the pastor returns to the Monthly Council, everything
that needed to be done is done, or at least he knows what the status is, so the church is ready to move forward to the next step of growth.
HOW THE WEEKLY TAG-IN WORKS
The Weekly Tag-in takes place at a regularly scheduled service, so as to not require yet another night of the director’s time. It can be before or after service on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or mid-week Bible study night. The total time required to meet with all directors is five minutes. That’s right – only five minutes total. A tag-in session that takes longer is not being done properly. The tag-in list is a list of those assignments, directives, responsibilities, and
goals that the director needs to accomplish that month. Most of these assignments and directives were given at the monthly planning council, as explained in the previous chapter. A sample tag-in list is provided at the end of this chapter. It is similar to the Monthly Council agenda but usually much shorter. A copy of this tag-in list should be
given or mailed to each director as soon as possible after the monthly council. This way your directors know what you will be asking them about.
On the right of the tag-in list is provided four blocks for tagging-in four times (the week of the Monthly Planning Council you normally don’t have a tag-in session unless you feel it is needful). In the block, you “check” when it’s completed.
It is important that very little discussion be given to each item. It is either completed or not completed. If a problem has arisen, ask that director to remain until you have tagged-in with the rest. The entire time should be less than five minutes total, about thirty seconds per director. Train your directors that when asked about an assignment, their response should be one of these three:
1. Yes – meaning the assignment, goal, or responsibility has been completely finished.
2. No – meaning the assignment, goal, or responsibility is not finished. I am still working on it.
3. I need to see you about it – meaning a problem has come up or I have a question to ask before I can go any further.
Take care of all questions or problems after you have finished the tag-in. The director should wait quietly until the pastor can see him. If a pastor falls into the trap of allowing the tag-in to last fifteen or twenty minutes, the session will become burdensome and will soon be neglected. (Note: if you wish to have a brief, five-minute tag-in, it should never be done sitting down. When sitting it takes longer. A “quick” tag-in should be performed while standing up.)
WHEN TO HAVE YOUR TAG-IN
Most pastors have found that the tag-in works best either immediately before or immediately following service. If before service, the tag-in will normally be in the pastor’s office or some similar private location. All directors should come there directly from the prayer room. The major problem is some directors will invariably be late or forget.
If after service (Bible study night is best because altar calls on other services can be lengthy), the best procedure is to call the directors to the front before you dismiss in prayer. Please note: If you call them after dismissal prayer, it will take some of them ten minutes to finally wander up there. After the directors are grouped in the front or in some other prearranged location, you then pray, dismiss the service, and walk directly down to tag-in.
Another alternative is to meet with your directors early Sunday morning for coffee and donuts around 8:30 a.m. This allows for a more relaxed time of tag-in and any needed discussion. Yet another is to have group prayer and tag-in before service Sunday evening. With service starting in a few minutes it keeps the tag-in from going too long. When the tag-in should be is when it is best for you. But before service on mid-week Bible study has proven to be a poor choice. Directors having to work late make this time difficult.
But regardless when you have your tag-in, you should not have to worry about the list itself. Have your secretary (or someone you have appointed as department council secretary) bring the tag-in list to this meeting with them. After you have tagged-in, give the list back. This way you will not lose it or misplace it.
The Weekly Tag-in is the last step of the Four Part Planning Process. These four steps make up a powerful church management program that can’t be equaled for the average sized church. It is simple, efficient, and easily adapted to most any congregation. It covers all areas of effective management. It frees the pastor from the involved administration (the entire process adds up to less than three hours a month), and allows him to concentrate on being a pastor. The positive effect that good organization and management has upon a church and its growth is beyond question. As William E. Holder, a noted author and management expert has said, “Success is good management in action.”
But pastors are now saying that there is an even greater benefit that is sometimes overlooked. Often a pastor will “inherit” a director (from a previous pastor) who is more interested in the position and prestige than in doing any work. Or perhaps the pastor misjudged an individual and they are not capable of handling the position and now
you must remove them. Regardless of how the director got the position, asking for their resignation can be a touchy and embarrassing situation. “How can I remove them,” the pastor wonders, “without hurting their feelings and causing them to lose face before the entire church?”
If a pastor will have an Annual Retreat, require a One-Year Plan, hold a Monthly Council, and have a Weekly Tag-in, he will never have to remove an incompetent director. . . they will ask or beg to be removed! Why? Because when there is that much heat in the kitchen, if you don’t want to work, you get out! It is too uncomfortable to go week after week and month after month not doing the job. After a short while, the director realizes that their talents must lie elsewhere.
The tendency is for a pastor or church leader to underestimate the benefit of a management system such as this. It is not an easy thing to implement. At times, obstacles will arise that will interfere with your normal meeting times. Press on. The end result is worth the effort. Your directors will appreciate your interest and you will appreciate their faithfulness. The Four-Part Planning Process is the answer to most pastoral management problems.
Weekly Tag-in Topics
For the Month of October – 1988
Tag-in Topics Week
1 2 3 4
1. Sunday School Department – Bro. Potter
* Fall Attendance Drive – chose teams
* Begin Sunday Morning Teachers Training
* Purchase New Bus
2. Youth Department – Bro. Masters
* Permission for Youth Crusade to Vicksburg
* Schedule Youth Revival with Bro. Massengale
* Chaperons for Youth Trip to “Sea World”
3. Outreach Department – Bro. Davies
* Build New Track Rack
* Spirit of Freedom Promotion Service on l2th
* Saturday Door Knocking Teams – print flyers
4. Visitor Follow-up Department – Bro. Black
* Follow-up Training Seminar on l9th
* Print Visitor Packet
5. Home Bible Study Department – Bro. Hampton
* Quarterly H.B.S. Seminar on 29th
* Bible Study Promotion Night – Sunday the 4th
* Print Quest Survey materials for next month
6. New Converts Department – Bro. Tracy
* Fall New Convert Potluck Saturday l6th
* Call or visit all Backsliders this month
7. Music Department – Bro. Carter
* Purchase new Portable Sound System
* Print tickets for Annual Songfest next month
8. Men’s Fellowship Department – Bro. Gresham
* Men’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday 11th
* Promote Men’s Prayer Meeting Sunday 25th
9. Ladies Auxiliary Department – Sis. Davis
* Revise Church Cleaning List
* Ladies Day the 11th – push for visitors
10. Promotional Department – Sis. Deeds
* Flyer for Missions Seminar in January
* Bulletin article from Pastor
* Repair Paper Folder