What happens when– instead of playing to win– you play not to lose? You lose. You abandon the strategies that earned your success in the first place and you become too cautious. You don’t take a sufficient amount of risk… and it costs you. I haven’t read the Denver papers, but I’m sure there are many comments criticizing the coach for not using the strengths the team had.
My question for you, whether you’re in Denver or not, in what ways might the above description apply to your church or ministry?
My wife, a very wise woman, keeps in mind three important strategies for maintaining long-term success in ministry. These apply no matter what kind of ministry you’re involved in, whether you’re leading a network of churches, organizing a small group service project, or teaching the kids’ class.
- Remember that listening is an ongoing process. Continue to ask questions of others, read, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit. Don’t fear change, but be open to new ideas and different perspectives.
- Strengthen relationships with your coworkers. You need peers to support one another and pray together. Build friendships, and be sure to always be mentoring someone to take your place if need be.
In yesterday’s blog entry, I outlined some of the advantages of pilot projects—starting small to test a ministry idea. Let’s say you do that. How do you know if it’s working? Here are a few ways to evaluate the success of your pilot project.
- Goal achievement. That sounds simple, but it’s essential. Is this pilot project producing the results you were aiming for? (Note: this presupposes that you set clear, measurable goals ahead of time.)
- Motivated team members. How easy is it for you to find—and keep—team members?
Recently I watched a baby of about one year old who was trying to learn to speak. As conversations were carried on around him, he mimicked the sounds and actions he was observing. When people were talking, he would make word-like sounds in their direction as if we wanted to be included in the situation. At dinner after taking a bite of food, he would say “mmmmmmm.” Whenever he took even these small steps toward language, the adults went crazy praising him and showering him with attention. What did he do with this praise, this attention? He repeated the sound of course. If you get a response that good the first time—keep on doing it!
Whatever you want to end up with, you must start with in seed form. Always ask yourself the question, “What if it works?”
If this new ministry takes off and grows, how will you handle the growth? What unit will you need to multiply? Group leaders? Meeting space? Discipler/mentors? Teachers? How will you do that?
Create a growth plan before the growth takes place; that way you’ll be ready.
With my bum leg putting me on crutches, I am reading the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30) in a whole new light. Because I have less energy and ability than I used to, I have needed to recognize that I’m just not going to be able to do all I was before, at least not while I’m still healing. God only holds us accountable for what we do with what we’ve got.