Home > Forums
Topic Title: Lean in church
Topic Summary: Examples of lean projects in non-profits or churches
Created On: 03/20/2009 04:06 PM
Linear : Threading
<< 1 2 Previous Last unread
Send to a Friend Send to a Friend
Search Topic Search Topic
Topic Tools Topic Tools
View similar topics View similar topics
View topic in raw text format. Print this topic.
05/01/2009 12:45 PM
Print this message

Author Icon
Vijay Jeste

Hi Karen:
Your message was very encouraging. I work for Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com), a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to serving Catholic churches in USA. We also have a sister company, American Church, that offers similar products and services to churches of other denominations.
Having worked for Fortune 500 companies in the past, I was heavily involved in developing & implementing Lean Practices and Philosophy. At OSV, we are thinking of developing consulting services for churches to offer them our expertise in Lean. We manufacture 800 Million offering envelopes and the production department has embraced Lean with great enthusiasm. We need to figure out a way to use the knowledge and expertise we have gained to benefit our customers.
Please keep me posted on your progress so we can learn from your activities.
Vijay Jeste
Product Manager
Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN
(260) 355 - 6894
05/06/2009 09:45 AM
Print this message

Author Icon
Charles Duffert

All...thanks for the kind words of interest. Tom and I have the Lean Ministry website up and running--but it is a work in progress. The forum is active and we would like to hear from you. The following is excerpted from the homepage at:


This website is dedicated to the application of lean principles to the 21st Century Church. It is intended to share information from anyone in any capacity at any place in their spiritual journey--even if you haven't started a spiritual journey yet. The Lean Ministry Forum is available for your comments. We welcome them.

A monumental shift has taken place in the Christian world over the past few years. It has taken place before our very eyes with so many of us not noticing what was going on--so complacent are we in our lives. The shift is both inside the Church between Christians and between the Church and non-Christians outside the Church. There is a gap that must be bridged to make the Church effective in its role as God's chosen tool to reach lives and be the organ of transformation when those lost lives are reached. The Barna Group tells us that in ten short years the evangelical community has gone from a position of esteem to a position of disdain.

We believe that Lean Ministry can be that bridge.

The value of Lean is that it defines the intended outcome in specific terms and then progressively eliminates actions and processes that do not achieve that result.

Lean thinking is all about getting at and then fixing the real problem - permanently, not fixing the symptoms, or hiding the problems with layers of non-value-adding activities and unnecessary costs. Lean thinking engenders the relentless pursuit and elimination of waste, however that waste manifests itself in the organization at hand.

We must maximize value and minimize waste if we hope to match finite resources to infinite needs and respond to our Customer's requests - particularly in ministry.

We have approached the issue by asking what the Bible has to say about the following questions:

1-Who our Customer is and what does He value?

2-What is spiritual DNA and how is it common to all people-groups even though it may take a diverse outward appearance?

3-What is the transformation process and how does "flow" and "pull" play into it?

4-How would we structure a lean ministry to meet the needs of these diverse people-groups without compromising Truth?

5-What does a church-centered continuous improvement process look like?
05/12/2009 04:07 PM
Print this message

Author Icon
Charles Duffert

All...we've been adding material to the website piecemeal as we've developed it. We would particularly like your feedback on the "A lean ministry is..." page. Please let us know your thoughts.


Charles Duffert
08/05/2009 08:53 AM
Print this message

Michael Williquette

I have read with interesed the posts regarding lean in a church invironment. There is certainly a need in this area, particuarly due to the fact that so many of those who minister in church environments are overworked and could use some time-saving help. The churches, by the way, would not mind some of the money-saving help they would receive from becoming lean. Besides these, Lean is just a good way to clean things up, providing safety and help to those who work at and belong to the church group.

A walk through the average custodial closet/room at a church will provide an indicator as to the degree of need that exists for the church to go lean. Disenfectant aerosol cans in multiple places, some full, some almost empty, rags here and there, various individual cleaners that can all do the same work but are not in any one place. A pile of dirty mops ready for the laundry but looking like, in a pinch, they might just be used one last time since all of the mops look dirty anyway and the mop handle is without a "wig." If there is a vacuum cleaner it certainly is not in the room ... well, it may be ... but you can't find it since there is not any one place where it is labeled to be. By the way, what labels? The only labels visible are the ones on the cleaning bottles and cans. There is not a prescribed place for anything and nothing is in its place.

While this is quite discriptive, I think you can see the need. It takes someone with interest to help.

By the way, I am starting a website to help non-profits and small businesses. I am not quite done, but would appreciate any suggestions of things non-profits or small businesses would like to see covered. Office automation is at the core of the site through the use of technology but it expands to other Lean ideas as well. The site is found at: www.mydataworks.net or write me at mike@mydataworks.net and I will get back with you.
08/07/2009 08:55 AM
Print this message

Author Icon
Earl Wilson


My name is Earl Wilson and I am one of the authors for LEI. We are in the process of converting from committee driven organization to team driven organization in my Church. We will apply lean principles in utilization of money, people and facilities.

A good reference book is titled The Simple Church.

If you want to discuss you can contact me at earl.wilson@wilsonleanconceptsinc.com

Earl Wilson
01/27/2015 09:06 PM
Print this message

Author Icon
Emily Clifton

Hi Andy,
I am very interested in your thoughts on implementing value stream management at church. Specifically I am working on helping visitors get connected through a series of processes. The task is to create a system of processes and contacts to make sure that after someone visits, they have a clear route.

My instinct tells me my team's first order of business is to map current state and identify existing processes and data collection points.

Thanks for your help.

01/30/2015 05:21 PM
Print this message

Author Icon
Roger Landman

Hi All,

When I first read the title I was sceptical of the content, particularly as I have been part of the rift in a church when some wanted to make it a virtual church and others felt that it needed to remain traditional with face to face interaction...no instant gratification that supported staying away but watched it on the internet. So I thought "is nothing sacred anymore?"

And so my approach would be slightly different to what I have seen here..and this is based upon my implementation of Lean in a number of different organisations:

Perhaps we need to take a step back as I see a number of comments diving into the detail without looking at the bigger picture first.
1. What is the aim of the church? some churches focus inwardly and want to do everything in house while other churches are outward looking i.e. send out ministries and church plants.
2. What is the culture of the church? Very important to sound this out, just as there are some organisations that cannot implement Lean due to incongruencies between culture and change. And do not be mistaken...these churches still flourish because there is a market for their product. "Not everyone drives a Toyota"

I could go on with a number of further questions about the high level stuff, but as this is a discussion on Lean, I am now considering The 4 P's - Philosophy, People, Processes and Problem Solving. The discussions above seem to exclude Philosophy and People, which are the 2 main ingredients to a church. What is the church doing and how does it do it? Change the philosophy and you may well dismantle the church - I for one have left a church when the approach and philosophy changed.

More importantly - What do the people want? Remember that the big organisations push onto the end consumer what they think the end consumer wants...well the reverse is equally true, don't push Lean onto the church unless they want it.

Rather look for simple solutions to the problems as they appear. Like a huge big pink envelope for visitors which contains a free ticket to get cake and tea while the "Welcoming Committee" are operating in the tea room on the look out for anyone with a huge pink envelope. Just removed waste but not changed anything.

Perhaps my concern goes a bit deeper, and this was the discussions that raged in our church...My ways are not your ways, so why do we try and make our ways fit the church? Some of the most successful churches do not have Lean implemented at all, but rather focus on Faith and the Holy Spirit. Hence my comments above, but please do not misunderstand me, a good spring cleaning of back office stuff is never a bad thing...provided we do not affect the things that makes people come to that church.
03/03/2017 10:41 PM
Print this message

Author Icon
Michael Warner

I know that this thread has been dormant for a while. But I am glad to have found it. I am a Green Belt and Black Belt out of Eastman Kodak (remember Kodak?) of the heady days of a once vibrant company. Now retired. Many of the members of our Congregation were Black Belts or practitioners of the sundry elements of Lean. I just accepted a call to become the 5S Guru and change the culture of a growing Church. We are big but not "mega" so we have room to make changes. One task will be in dropping the Toyota lingo and making this a warmer, more inviting process. Employees are different fish than volunteers.

Anyone else have new and fresh insights?

Mike Warner
Rochester, New York
03/14/2017 07:27 AM
Print this message

Author Icon
Jayesh Bharti

A general point: the most important element of lean is drawing a circle around yourself and putting your customer in the centre of your purpose. This is very apt for non-profit organisations such as Churches. Taking ownership and responsibility is key to this, as long as you can agree who the customer is.

As churches have support services for the wider community these could be seen as potential value-streams. The application is valid and a useful one. Good luck!
03/14/2017 07:28 AM
Print this message

Author Icon
Hal Davis


I would like to dialog on the issue. Which application do you see needing to be implemented first?
FORUMS : Business Process : Lean in church

<< 1 2 Previous Last unread
Topic Tools Topic Tools
Note: These forums are moderated by the Lean Enterprise Institute. All posts are reviewed within 24-48 hours prior to appearing on the site. Views expressed in these forums do not necessarily represent the views of the Lean Enterprise Institute.