I've been thinking about the key ideas and concepts that have shaped my philosophy of ministry. These ideas and concepts serve as a set of mental shortcuts that help me think about strategic and tactical decisions.
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.
2. There is no problem free.
The essence of this concept is that every strategy, system or model comes with a set of problems. Every strategy. Every system. Every model. There are no problem free strategies, systems or models. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they'd rather have.
Knowing there are no problem free strategies, systems or models sets up a very helpful exercise. Simply make a list of the set of problems that come with each option and choose the list you'd rather have.
There are no problem free strategies, systems or models. Every strategy, system or model comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they'd rather have. Click To Tweet
See also The Pursuit of Problem Free
3. "Path, not intent, determines destination."
This Andy Stanley line reminds that regardless of what is intended, hoped for, or dreamed up, the path you are on actually determines where you end up. An essential step in designing a strategy is a level-headed, dispassionate determination that it will do what you expect it to do.
Because hope is not a strategy, "path, not intent, determines destination" says it all about the importance of creating steps that are easy, obvious and strategic.
Regardless of what is intended, hoped for, or dreamed up, the path you are on actually determines where you end up. An essential step in designing a strategy is a level-headed, dispassionate determination that it will do what you… Click To Tweet
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.
Every ministry or program has advocates who very sincerely believe it is essential and already being done the best way possible. Assigning results to design helps move the conversation to the actual issues.
Every ministry or program has advocates who very sincerely believe it is essential and already being done the best way possible. Assigning results to design helps move the conversation to the actual issues. Click To Tweet
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. Because of their wording, they can sometimes be a stumbling block to those who object to the notion that ministries are in "business" or might have "customers." They can usually be explained to the satisfaction of the objector with very little effort.
In my experience, if you don't have answers for the Drucker questions, if you've not invested time in them, it is unlikely that you are moving in the right direction.
6. "The optimal environment for life-change is a small group."
Life-change happens most frequently as a result of life-on-life interaction. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, life-change happens in relationship and as a result of relationships.
Life-on-life happens best in circles (not rows). Therefore your small group system must include a connection 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. Can the exceptional leader care for more than 10? Sometimes, but normally only for a season. And beyond the season the attempt to care for more than about 10 provides a less desirable level of care.
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 limited time, talent, and treasure. It also stipulates the existence of a single critical growth path. The default temptation is to argue based on unlimited resources and multiple options.
See also Budgeting for the Preferred Future.
9. Unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church.
I believe we are ultimately stewards of the crowd (not just the congregation). That is, among the resources we've been entrusted to steward is the well-being of even the least frequent attenders. Less frequent attenders are rarely connected to a group. And unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again.
This understanding shapes my preoccupation with connecting unconnected people as first priority.
We are ultimately stewards of the crowd (not just the congregation). That is, among the resources we've been entrusted to steward is the well-being of even the least frequent attenders. Less frequent attenders are rarely connected to a… Click To Tweet
10. The most connected people inside your congregation are the least connected to the crowd and community.
When you talk to the most connected at your church, you'll learn that their 10 best friends in the area are also among the most connected people (the congregation). They tend to be in groups together or serve together. You'll also learn that they have very minimal connection 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 insight shapes the desirability of strategies like the HOST strategy and "if you'd like to do the study with a couple friends." They are designed to leverage strong external ties.
See also, Exponential Outreach.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Ignacio Palomo Duarte