Every day, church staff are asked to make important decisions for the things they oversee. However, if there isn't an agreed-upon decision-making model, people can find themselves frustrated and confused with the way decisions are being made.
Often times, people think that there are only two categories of people when a decision is made... the people who made the decision, and the people who didn't. However, if a decision is made the right way, there are actually four categories of people.
I want to share a helpful decision-making model that we use at our church that is simple to understand, simple to remember, and simple to use. It is known as View, Voice, Vote, Veto.
View, Voice, Vote, Veto
The first group of people get a view.
- These people are able to see the decision ahead of time.
- They do not serve as advisors, but do have the ability to hear about important decisions before the rest of the church.
- By inviting someone into this category, you are communicating that they are important and that you want their support for the decision that has already been made.
The next group of people not only get a view, but they also get a voice.
- These people serve as advisors. They are able to speak into the situation, but not able to make the final decision.
- They help you by providing wisdom, guidance, and direction.
- Their voice helps you make a good decision.
The next group of people not only get a view and a voice, but they also get a vote.
- These people are trusted individuals who care about the success of your ministry and the health of your church.
- They have the right experience and knowledge as it relates to the decision you are about to make.
- After everything has been considered, they help you make the best decision possible.
If a bad decision is about to be made (or has been made), these people can veto it…
- The ministry leader.
- Your supervisor.
- The Lead Pastor.
Note: With good communication and proper collaboration, a veto will be rare.
How do people get into these different categories?
In order to get a view, voice, or vote, the decision maker has to invite you into that category. The only category that doesn’t require an invitation is the veto category, but that’s because it is predetermined (see above). And since this is by invitation only, it guarantees that you have the right people at the table at the right time.
For example, we've all been in a situation before where the wrong people are at the table. And in those moments, it can be frustrating because the people who you don’t want making a decision are trying to vote on something, and the people who you trust to help you make a good decision are left sitting there questioning the process. All of that can be avoided with this decision-making model.
On a practical level, how does this work?
Allow me to use three hypothetical conversations with our Missional Community Leaders to show you how this might work on a practical basis (you might call them Small Group Leaders at your church). I want to show you how the language you use matters, and how you need to be intentional with the way you are asking people to participate in the decision.
Hey Missional Community Leaders. I would like to have a meeting with you next week to give you a view into a decision that we recently made. At our meeting, I will share some important updates with you about our Missional Communities and how we will be serving our city this semester. Please make sure you are able to join us.
- Notice what I said: I said that I wanted to give them a view into a decision that has already been made.
- Notice what I didn’t say: I didn’t say that there would be a discussion, and I didn’t ask them to come prepared to help me make a decision. Rather, they are coming to be informed.
Hey Missional Community Leaders. I would like to have a meeting with you next week to discuss how our Missional Communities can better serve our city this semester. Your voice will help me make the right decision for our church. So, please come ready to share your thoughts.
- Notice what I said: I said that I wanted to discuss something, and I asked them to come ready to share their thoughts. So, there is an expectation that they will be a part of a conversation.
- Notice what I didn’t say: I didn’t say that they would be making the decision. Rather, I said their voice would help me make the right decision.
Hey Missional Community Leaders. I would like to have a meeting with you next week to discuss how our Missional Communities can better serve our city this semester. After our discussion, we will collectively make a decision of how to move forward.
- Notice what I said: I told them that after our discussion, a decision would be made, and they would help me make that decision. In other words, they have a vote.
Again, language matters. So, be sure to be intentional with what you say when you are asking someone to be a part of a decision.
Important questions to ask yourself:
Every time you are making an important decision in your area of ministry, you need to ask yourself three important questions:
- Who needs to know about this ahead of time? These people will get a view.
- Who needs to speak into this to provide wisdom, guidance, and direction? These people will get a voice.
- Who needs to help me make this decision? These people will get a vote.
Very rarely will you ever make an important decision on your own. At a minimum, someone should know about it and be given a view (such as other staff members). Ministry is participatory. It is collaborative. Just because we can make a decision on our own doesn’t mean that we should.
The benefits of having a shared decision-making model:
I believe that this model of View, Voice, Vote, Veto is a great model for any team. By having a shared decision-making model, you will experience multiple benefits, such as...
- Increased clarity with your decisions.
- Better communication with your team and the people you serve.
- Unity in how decisions are being made.