We naturally love to plan things that we enjoy. At times, as ministry leaders, we inadvertently fall into the trap of allowing the elements of the ministry (songs, sermon series, staff roles, events, or production) to take priority over our main calling... connecting with and showing God's love to the people of the church.
How do we know that we've fallen into this trap? One way would be to stop and take time to reach out to your congregation, volunteers, and staff and ask questions to gain valuable feedback about the effectiveness of our efforts.
Many church leaders have a tough time getting out of the rhythm they find themselves in, as traditions are in place and things are seemingly working. Why rock the boat? Growth ... that's why. Without change, you can't grow, and if you're not on the incline, then you're on the decline.
So, gather your team together, buy them lunch, and dive into some of these questions that will help you process your current direction and help you get things moving towards healthy change:
- What is something that needs to start in your ministry?
- What is something this year that needs to die in your ministry?
- What is something that needs to be re-imagined in your ministry?
- What is something in your area of ministry that may be going well but needs a tweak or two?
- What ministry at your church is thriving? What benchmarks lead you to your assessment? What can we learn from that ministry that applies to others to help them thrive too?
- Are your services or events worth being invited to? Ask your congregation, and don't defend if you don't like what you hear.
- What do I need to do to have online ministry be more prominent in my church context as we head into the future?
- How effective are your preaching and weekend services for your congregation? What are the benchmarks of effectiveness you are using?
- Does a first-time guest feel welcome to come as they are? How do you know?
- Do the events you plan have a strategic purpose and a defined win behind them? Does your entire team know the purpose and win?
- Are your services or groups new-person friendly? Are there clear steps to help new folks assimilate well? How do you know if it is working?
- Is there a role on your team that is missing that needs to be filled, replaced, or improved?
- Is there a role on your team that you no longer need the way you did 18 months ago? What action steps are you going to take? How can you care for them in the process?
- What is the language you use? Evaluate whether your church-speak is insider-focussed or something clear to anyone who may hear it.
These questions may feel a bit tedious to process, but the insights that are produced from this exercise cause change. And change can be hard. And yet, we must not shy away from change, but instead, see change as an opportunity.
This reevaluation helps you re-think what you're doing and gives you action steps towards serving your congregation and community well.
If you need help processing any of the above with your team, don't hesitate to reach out via email. I'm happy to make myself available to you and see how I might be of help.
Dan Navarra has over fifteen years experience in vocational ministry out in sunny California. In addition to being a full-time pastor, Dan has expertise specializing in church finances, HR, and Youth Pastor compensation; having run the largest-ever national compensation survey of over 4,000 Youth Pastors to-date. His work with Youth Pastors has been featured at Church Law & Tax, the National Network of Youth Ministries, and he’s held coaching calls all over the country to help Youth Pastors turn their calling into a sustainable career. He and his family of five reside in the Central Valley of California where they can access the ocean, ski slopes, lake cabin, and desert all within a two-hour drive.