Sunday, January 14, 2007

Accountability and Culture

Pat Ennis, the executive director of Sovereign Grace Ministries coined, or at least passed on, a phrase about timeliness:

On time is late.

I have personally benefitted from applying that idea. If I arrive just on time, I might as well be late. For me to really be on time, I should arrive early enough to pray a moment, get acclimated to my new surroundings, pull out my stuff, go to the bathroom, plug in my computer, and do whatever else I must to be fully there and fully operational when the official start time arrives.

At Covenant Life, though, this idea is counter-cultural. We operate in "15-minutes late is on time" mode. Undoubtably, part of the difference between our reality and my preferred maxim is the hyperdrive in which our people live. They pack their schedules. They pack them tight, like a bulging suitcase. And then they naturally arrive late.

Unfortunately, our tech teams have not been immune to the cultural modus operandi. Our members show up late frequently. I'm running out of ideas to encourage them to arrive on time. And I'm really disgusted by the thought of manipulating them by asking them to arrive earlier than they really need to arrive just to get them there late-but-on-time.

So, my question goes out to other church leaders, especially volunteer team leaders. How do you hold your people accountable to timeliness?

What reason do you give for them to be on time? How do you encourage them to be on time? What methods do you use to follow up with them? Is there a point where a lack of timeliness becomes a reason to ask them to not volunteer?

Thanks for your help!

Photo Credit: eshm


Anonymous said...

David, this was good. It has been a growing area of concern but not one that has been distracting as you describe. But I also hear the point your making, that all of life is lived under the cross. Thank you for the reminder, and I passed it on to our productions team!

Derek ()

Dave Wilcox said...


Thanks for the comment. To be honest, I'm a bit perplexed by your reply. Can you explain what you mean by, "I also hear the point you're making, that all of life is lived under the cross"? While that is a great point to make, I wasn't intending to make any point with the post, but rather to get people's feedback about how they hold people accountabe to arriving on time. Can you clarify?

Anonymous said...

Lack of vision is the issue. Painting a visual for them about how much their commitment means to the church body and how what they do is vital to changing lives is essential. Keep the vision in front of them. Hold them accountable, then ask them if perhaps another ministry might be better suited for them. I often have coffee (my treat) with my volunteers and get to know them on a personal level. Then I can know what their passions are. It also helps if you know your team member's love languages so you can appreciate them in a way that inspires them.

Dave Wilcox said...

Tina, I think you hit the nail on the head here: vision is what is ultimately lacking. Or maybe more accurately: application of vision. I think the folks on my teams KNOW what the vision is. They just don't apply it to their little decisions like when to wake up, when to leave the house, and so on. Maybe the significance is lacking.

How do you hold your team members accountable? And when do you decide that you've got someone on your team that shouldn't be there?

Anonymous said...


I agree with Tina, it comes down to vision and vision casting, in a recent tech meeting I reminded the techs that they were serving God not me and that accountability and timeliness is an issue of integrity before God. I asked the question, "If everyone is made in the image of God, then who are you really offending when you say your going to do something and don't do it?" The somber and overwhelming answer was God...