If you are like me, you are looking for opportunities to give ministry away. You don’t want to get stuck in the swamp of delegating tasks. Instead, you want to delegate responsibilities - after all, finding someone else a task to complete often means adding one more thing to your to-do list.
The big problem with delegating is getting bogged down in the details. What do they need to know before I give them this responsibility? How much structure and instruction do I give them? What should they never do? How do I give them this responsibility without constantly having to stay on top of what they are doing?
I want to gift you this concept inspired by my ministry coach Chris Hughes; Sidelines and Endzones. Yes, it’s a football analogy, so it may not connect with everyone, but it is gold for those who do connect with it.
The big idea at work here is this; if you overload the person you are delegating responsibility to with too many details you will unnecessarily bog them down and hinder them, and you, in the process.
Sidelines and Endzones keeps it extremely simple. Most people can remember four big ideas. Simply put, Sidelines and Endzones are four boundaries that in a sense say, “if you keep it in this field of play, and score, I’ll be happy. The idea is to give them freedom to do the work, while also giving them a framework on how best to work with you.
Chris’ original concept to me was four fence posts, but as I thought about it the idea of Sidelines and Endzones helped make it easier for me to decide what those four big ideas of delegating were going to be. Sidelines gave me two boundaries to consider for each position. Endzones gave me two goal lines to come up with. One Endzone would be the big win for the responsibility given. The other would be clear, specific, and tangible ways to score.
So, here is an example of what this looks like; we are currently in the process of starting LifeGroups. Here are the Sidelines and Endzones I gave my new LifeGroups director:
In addition to delegating responsibility to someone else, the idea of Sidelines and Endzones helps me understand my role in the process more clearly. Here are a few big ideas to consider:
In a sense, I’m the head coach, and the person I’m delegating to would be the equivalent of an Offensive Coordinator. As the coach, I can give input when needed, but during the course of the game I need to back off and not disrupt my OC while the game is in progress.
Football games are split into four quarters, so is our year. At the end of each quarter, I get an opportunity to huddle up with my OC and readjust our game plan if needed.
Coaches get two challenge flags a half. There may be times I need to throw my challenge flag to review a play, but coaches understand they need to save those flags for when it matters most. This helps me decide more easily on if I need to challenge something or not… I get two a half, so is this really something I want to waste a flag on?
The football game analogy helps me remember to celebrate when we score and to celebrate big at the end of the game. My ‘just work’ mentality makes me bad at this, so I need the reminder. Also built into this concept is the reminder of ‘we scored – awesome! Do the dance, spike the ball… now let’s get back to work, there is still more game left to play’.
There are so many great parallels to draw out of this concept. The encouraging thing has been this; I have already heard my LifeGroups Director taking this idea and implementing it with the leaders he is recruiting. He is giving them their very own Sidelines and Endzones… and I’m thrilled! I’ve got a great OC for this position, which is part of the delegation equation, but that is a post unto itself…
In the meantime - game on!!