Seven Practices of Effective Ministry*
1. 1. Clarify the win
What is the most important thing? Changed lives—new believers, and believers moving forward in service of Christ.
It’s easy to mistake numbers and dollars are signs of a “win.” Each area of ministry needs to have a clear picture of a “win” apart from numbers and dollars, but the church needs an overarching definition of “winning.”
Four steps to clarify the win:
a. Sum up the win in a simple phrase (ex., “meaningful interaction and life change in the context of small group”)
b. Keep the win as specific as possible (“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”)
c. Restate the win frequently and creatively
d. Meet to clarify the win at every level2. Think steps, not programs
Give people easy, obvious and strategic steps to take that will move them forward toward Christ and His kingdom.
Where do you want people to be? How are we going to get there? What steps will we need to get people from where there are to where they need to be? These steps need to be easy (simple and non-threatening), obvious (clear, and clearly communicated) and strategic (it helps people move forward toward life-change).3. Narrow the focus
Do what God has called you to do very well, and don’t do what God hasn’t call you to do.
There are a lot of important things that a ministry can do, but only a few impactful things that that ministry can do. You can’t respond to every legitimate need—you have to focus on a few simple things that you can do very well and that aligns with the ministry’s overall purpose To do that create specific environments within the ministry that have a clear, distinct purpose (ex., student outreach, married couples, outreach, newcomers, etc.) This increases the relevance, connection, quality and impact of each environment.
4. 4. Teach less for more
Get the right information to the right people—and don’t send all the information to everybody.
Teach with the question, “What do you want people to become?” in mind. Teach with broad principles in mind such as the Great Commandment and Luke 2:52 (see www.252basics.com).
Four steps to teach less for more
a. Decide what you are going to say
b. Decide to say one thing at a time
c. Decide how you are going to say it
d. Say it over and over again
5. 5. Listen to outsiders
Listen to the people on the outside—non-attenders, non-believers and wise counselors—more than to the complaints and demands of the insiders.
Most churches today exist to reinforce the values of the people already in them. That’s wrong. Instead, members should be called to invest in and to invite non-believers to the church. At all times, see with “outsider eyes” and hear with “outsider ears.”
6. 6. Replace yourself
You are less important than the organization. Therefore, raise up and mentor your replacement.
If you fail to develop a strategy to replace yourself, you will force talented people to wait in the wings, stifle insight, hinder the ability to recruit volunteers and limit the growth of the ministry.
a. Break it down into simple parts
b. Hand it off to partners, not competitors
c. Let it go
7. . 7. Work on it.
It’s easy to work in it—we do that all the time. Sometimes you need to work on it—to step back and analyze your overall standing and strategy.
Evaluate weekly, monthly, yearly, all the time. Use down time for a ministry as up time for evaluation. Keep reading, keep learning, keep honest and keep celebrating.
*From the book of the same title by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner and Lane Jones (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2004).