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Have you spent much time thinking about your philosophy of ministry? Your own philosophy of ministry (whether you’ve ever written it down or verbalized it) is actually the foundation for many of the decisions you make.

Why do you choose the strategies you choose? Why do you look for the kinds of leaders you look for? Why do you struggle making certain decisions?

I’ve been thinking about the key ideas and concepts that have shaped my philosophy of ministry.  I’m not talking theology.  That said, in no particular order, here are what I think are the ten biggest rocks:

  1. Crowd to Core: Rick Warren’s relatively simple metaphor expresses a profound ministry concept.  Instead of pouring everything into the most committed members with the expectation that they will then go out (core to crowd), crowd to core focuses on building next steps that will help the crowd move toward Christ.  See also Next Steps for Everyone…and First Steps for Their Friends.
  2. There is no problem free.  If you’ve ever joined me on a webinar or read very many of my articles, you’ll immediately recognize this phrase. When choosing between two strategies, wise leaders understand that there is no problem free solution, identify the problem set for each and simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.  See also The Pursuit of Problem Free
  3. “Path, not intent, determines destination.”  This Andy Stanley line says it all about the importance of creating steps that are easy, obvious and strategic. It does not matter where you intend to go (or where you intend or hope your people end up), if you aren’t on the path that actually goes there, you may be moving very fast in the wrong direction. See also Arriving at the Preferred Future.
  4. “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.”  Another Andy Stanley line that succinctly illustrates a stunning reality.  Design determines results.  We can’t blame it on a fluke.  There is an indisputable relationship between the design and the outcome.  See also An Openness to New Ideas
  5. “What business are you in?”  “Who is your customer?” “What will you call success?”  What I often refer to as the Drucker questions play a very big part in my ministry.  If you don’t have answers for them, if you’ve not invested time in them, it is unlikely that you are moving in the right direction.  See also The First Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer and The Second Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer.
  6. “The optimal environment for life-change is a small group.”  Life-change happens most frequently as a result of life-on-life interaction. A small group system provides a strategy that scales for the size of the congregation, crowd and community. See also Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
  7. “Everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can take of more than (about) ten.” Carl George’s interpretation of Exodus 18 plays a big part in my understanding of the need for and the potential of a coaching structure.  See also The One Thing Every Small Group Pastor Must Do for Small Group Leaders.
  8. “Leaders allocate the finite resources of the organization to the critical growth path.” Again, no one says it like Carl George. This one liner defines the leader’s role in choosing where to invest time, talent, and treasure. See also Budgeting for the Preferred Future.
  9. Unconnected people are one tough thing away from never being at your church again. This idea shapes my priorities in many ways. Once we realize we have a closing window on connecting unconnected people, we ought to be doing as much as we can to prioritize making it easier to connect. See also What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People.
  10. The most connected people inside your congregation are the least connected to the crowd and community. The reciprocal is also true. The least connected people inside your congregation are the most connected to the crowd and community. This understanding shapes many of my outreach oriented ministry plans. Focus on leveraging the strong ties of the least connected in your “crowd” to reach the “community.” See also, Exponential Outreach.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Further Reading:

Your Philosophy of Ministry and Decision-Making

Philosophy of Ministry: Off-Campus Groups vs. On-Campus Classes

Have You Made These 3 Game-Changing Observations about Small Group Ministry?

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