Church Planting Essentials – Reporting Cycles

I have thirty-five years of church planting experience in the USA and Asia, including South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.  Since 1997 I have been training church planters and assisting with strategy development all over the world.  The teams I have led, and the men and women I have trained have been used by God to start more than 50,000 churches and baptize more than 3 million people.  I think I have probably made every mistake that can be made in church planting and leading church planting teams.  I try to learn from my mistakes and share what I have learned with others.  I will be most pleased if this blog helps you to make fewer mistakes than I. 
 
The following includes a reply to a comment to the post, Church Planting Essentials – Measure Causes, Not Results.  I think the content of this comment is important enough to promote to the main blog page.  The question raised was about reporting cycles and goals. I want to thank Scott L. of Las Vegas for raising the question.  I appreciate all questions and comments.  They help me to know what I need to be writing about.  They also jog my memory. 
 
Reporting cycles depend on the situation in which the church plant is happening, the maturity of the church planter, the person to whom the reports are given, and the organization to whom one reports. 
 
I have teams who work in highly restricted situations that do not have good communication, and no secure telephonic, electronic, or paper communications.  In these situations the reporting cycle depends on when team leaders can meet face to face in safer environments to give their oral reports. 
 
With immature church planters, the reporting cycle is always monthly, unless there is no movement for six months, then I will shorten the cycle.  Since the bulk of the report is about doing the right things that will get to church, shortening the cycle allows the leader to monitor more closely what the church planter is doing, and then give training and support as needed.  Most church planters are motivated.  New ones just sometimes get stuck not knowing what to do or doing the wrong things, or are working in the wrong place.  It is the team leader’s responsibility to help the church planter get on track.  Training and mentoring, encouragement, and reports that ask for the right information will go a long way in helping a new church planter become successful in doing the things that will lead to church.  Remember, God starts churches, so I find it difficult to make the number of churches started a goal.  We have a job to put into place the things God will use to start the church.  We can set goals for this.
 
Mature, experienced church planters may only give reports quarterly.  But, in any case, new groups started and baptisms are reported as soon as possible by any team member.  Also, reports are exchanged when I have face to face meetings.  Note, that I report what I am doing to those who report to me.  Team members will not understand the team leader’s job if the team leader does not give reports to the team.
 
Every leader has his or her own style.  Some require more informaiton that others.  Some have a need for lots of paper reports, others are happy with oral reports.  Great leaders learn how to manage reporting according to the needs of those they lead.  I have teams that will always have a problem giving written reports, so I don’t require written reports.  I call or visit them and get the reports I need through dialogue. 
 
Why do we give reports or require reports?  Jesus received reports from his disciples and followers.  Note that Jesus gave reports to His Father.  Read the Gospels and observe how many times reports were given.  If we ask for the right things in reports, then the reports set expectations, define the job, and help us to measure the right things that will get us to our goals and objectives.  Good reporting instruments can lead to better relationships in the team and between team leaders and their teams.  Reports demonstrate to others that we know what we are doing, are doing it faithfully, and that others can trust us to spend their money wisely and well.  Reports can build trust if they measure the right things.
 
Reports should be about content, not form.  Get the right information any way you can, and don’t sweat the form.  Relationships are more important than paperwork.  Leaders build relationships.  Managers worry about paperwork.  All of us have some management responsibilities in our organizations.  We need to learn how to fulfill these management responsibilities without compromising being good leaders.

Different goals have different time requirements.  I may have a daily goal of contacting ten new people.  I may have a weekly goal of five Discovery Bible Studies.  I may have a team meeting goal of once in two weeks.  I may have a mentoring goal of spending two hours per week with a team member.  I may have a monthly goal of sending a written report to my supervisor.  Goals depend on what helps you or your team get the job done.

 
Blessings!

 
David Watson
Irving, TX

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