Resourcefulness, MacGyver, and Asset Mapping

I never really watched the old TV show MacGyver. But when I was flipping through the channels, if I came across an episode nearing the end, I’d tune in. I’d tune in because during the last ten minutes of the show, MacGyver would always be in some predicament with no readily apparent resources to get out of it. Yet he’d somehow manage to make whatever he needed out of any junk that was lying around. He’d make a battering ram to blast through a door. He’d make an elaborate contraption that would do just what he needed it to do.

The fascinating part was not only his resourcefulness and ingenuity, but the fact that he would focus on what he did have rather than what he didn’t have. How can we do that in ministry?  Sure, a big building would be nice, but how can we come up with a solution out of what we do have?  Another staff person would be great, but how can we meet our needs with the people God has already given us?

A great exercise to help us focus on the resources we do have is called “Asset Mapping.” Here’s how it works:

Identify your assets

  • Select an area of focus.
  • One asset per note.
  • Don’t overlook assets.
  • Display each asset.

Vote with YOUR feet.

  • Decide on a pleasing action.
  • Vote with your feet.
  • Consult with the asset-holders.
  • Make a work plan.

Connect the Dots.

  • Connect several assets.
  • Brainstorm possible actions.
  • Connect to other assets.
  • Brainstorm other actions.
  • Give the action a name.


  • Actions become priorities.
  • Assets are linked–not just grouped.
  • Assets gather and release power.
  • Asset-mapping can snowball.
  • “The map tells you what to do.”
  • Asset-mapping builds capacity.
  • “Asset-based” is a way to think.