4 Questions You Must Ask to Start Your New Year in Ministry
As one year ends and another begins, it is natural for us to find ourselves thinking through our goals and attempting to evaluate the year gone by. Over the last few years, it seems as though an entire industry has sprung up around this kind of thing… notebooks designed to help you achieve your goals, special productivity pencils, and coaching groups. I believe that these can be great tools (well, maybe not the pencils), but my hunch is that more than anything most church leaders simply need a framework from which to operate out of as they begin these kinds of conversations.
The tool that I have used most often with the teams I have led and the churches that I consult with is the 4 Helpful Lists that was developed by Tom Paterson for StratOp. This is a series of four questions that I have found to be incredibly helpful and clarifying when thinking through the current status of the ministries that we lead. Here are the questions:
- What is right? What are the things that we should be optimizing? These are the areas of a ministry that are currently functioning properly and bearing fruit. The question isn’t what is perfect, there is still room for improvement, but it is good to start with knowing what currently works and, more importantly, why.
- What is wrong? What do we need to change? These are the areas that we know are not currently working. What parts of our ministry are broken and not functioning? Depending on your wiring, this can either be an easy or difficult question to answer. The trick is to focus on broken things, rather than confused or missing things… more on that in a minute.
- What is confused? What are the areas that lack clarity? It is easy to lump these things into the wrong category but what differentiates this category is that there is uncertainty about why this is done, what the goal is, or where it is headed. Often, this area is not working, but the lack of clarity is the major issue. Where this can be incredibly powerful is when you identify something that works, that is confused.
- What is missing? What do we need to add? Again, it can be easy to put these into the wrong category, but upon further review, you begin to realize that the issue is that there is something missing… that is causing the issue. This can be a manpower issue, a missing ministry component or program, a lack of funding, or something completely different.
I have used these questions with the teams I’ve led as a regular evaluation tool for our Sunday morning experience, our ministry areas, and our church as a whole. We also use a version of these questions when onboarding a church for each search that we conduct. We’ve found that they help cut to the core of a church’s current situation and give us insight into the core issues and the overall identity of the church.
P.S. If you are considering adding a staff member this year (or even just trying to figure out how to implement these questions into your regular rhythm), I’d love to spend some time talking through your search with you. Click here to schedule a free, 30 Minute Consultation.