Sometimes an opportunity comes along seemingly out of the blue. How do we know whether it’s of God or a distraction? How do we assess whether this new possibility is something we should invest our time in?
I was working with a church planter to determine whether a particular space would be suitable for his initial gatherings and for building relationships at that stage of his ministry. He had been offered the space for free, but instead of just taking it because it was free, I encouraged him to take the time to think through the ramifications of this new potential space. So I asked him to tell me what were the criteria for evaluating whether or not this would be a good option.
Together we brainstormed the factors that needed to be considered in order to evaluate this decision. Here’s the list we came up with:
- Accessibility and distance: Is this new venue something you and your people can readily get to? You might weight the possibility differently if it’s right around the corner than if it requires a long drive.
- Affordability: Cost is certainly a factor– not just rent but other costs associated with what you will do in this location.
- Cultural fit: How well would you fit in culturally with the neighborhood? That could be racially or economically, or it could be ideologically. If it’s a stretch and you don’t have cross-cultural gifting, count the cost and consider whether you are likely to be successful.
- Environment (alignment with purpose): How well would this new environment fit in with your broader vision for the church plant and subsequent ministry? Will this venue be taking you in the right direction? Is it suitable for your target group, including children?
- Personal fit: Is this new location something you would enjoy? Does it fit well with who you are?
- Divine guidance / serendipity: What are you hearing from God? What doors do you sense him opening or closing?
As you approach decisions, brainstorm the factors you need to consider. They will be different depending on the particular decision. After reflecting on these categories and weighting their various importance, you may want to take some exploratory steps forward. Consider whether there is a way to wade in a bit before deciding whether to make a full commitment.