Too often churches are working too hard. Yes, you read that right. Many churches are working too hard without gaining a significant impact in return. In other words, we are using way too many assets (i.e., time, energy, hours, capacity, dollars, facility usage) without furthering the mission of making disciple-making disciples. Instead, we are frustrating and burning out people. The church is spinning its wheels. The world (let alone our communities) is not being transformed.
Let’s stop the madness! Let’s work smarter rather than harder. Perhaps what we’ve done in the past is no longer working. Let’s try something new. Let’s evaluate our effectiveness. Let’s narrow our focus and do fewer ministries well. Let’s concentrate on ministries where a church can have missional impact in their context. Let’s be willing to experiment, evaluate, and pivot as needed. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to be focused, intentional, and strategic. It’s quite simple. Let’s take the small church as an example. In Mission Possible for the Small Church: Simplifying Leadership, Structure, and Ministries in Small Churches, we identify eight different principles for simplifying ministries for greater impact. One of those principles is to team up with community organizations who already have infrastructures in place. Lean on their expertise. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Come alongside them, build relationships, and increase the impact. Just make sure your organizations’ visions align.
Give yourself permission to stop ineffective ministries. If a ministry, event, or program is no longer serving the original purpose, is no longer effective, or no longer has the support it needs, give it a celebration of life and a funeral! Quit placing valuable resources into a dying, ineffective ministry. Reallocate those resources into a ministry with some energy and some potential impact.
Give yourself permission to say no or not in this season. No church has endless resources. No church has the capacity to do all they want to do. Not every ministry idea lines up with the vision of a particular church. Someone may have a great ministry idea, but it doesn’t align with the church’s vision. Or there may not be enough capacity or resources to carry the load of that ministry. Or perhaps it is an individual’s ministry and not the church’s ministry. Release them to do their own personal ministry on their own time and their own dime. It is okay to say no or not now. In fact, it may be the most faithful answer.
Being strategic doesn’t have to be complex. Being strategic doesn’t have to be complicated. Being strategic doesn’t have to be difficult or hard. In fact, being strategic and intentional makes ministry easier. Being strategic provides clarity and focus for leadership, budgeting, asset allocation, time allocation, and decision-making.
If you are a small church who has maybe resisted the idea of becoming a strategic church because you thought it was difficult, consider gathering your leaders and studying Mission Possible for the Small Church: Simplifying Leadership, Structure, and Ministries in Small Churches together. You might be surprised by how simple yet impactful becoming a strategic church can be!