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3 Ways Ministries Can Stunt Growth

October 19, 2012

Ministries today are bombarded by pressures. There is the need to be flexible and respond to situations as they arise, but far too often ministries within and outside of churches die slow deaths because they lose focus. Three ways I have seen ministries stunt their own growth over the past few years:

(1) They are not scalable. In brief, your ministry model needs to be able to work with growing demands…numerically, spiritually, financially, etc. Often ministries will begin when there is a small core group. The ministry is built around meeting the needs of that group with no foresight as to how the ministry might grow to serve others. The group may desire growth, but the model they chose will stunt them at some point. A good ministry model is one that works well with 8 people and can still function with 800. Having to go back to the drawing board to create a new plan every time you add 50 people creates anxiety in the system and will slow or stop growth. Good foresight in planning makes scaling ministries much easier as the Lord brings growth.

(2) They are centered around one person. A sure way to kill a ministry is to center it around one person as the leader. You may have someone who is a great planner, people gatherer, and motivator who starts a ministry. Far too often, however, as the ministry grows that one person has a difficult time passing off responsibilities to others. What most obviously happens is that the one person burns out. What often goes unseen, though, is that the one person is not talented enough to help the ministry reach its true potential. He or she may be a great speaker, teacher, and motivator…however they may lack the administrative skills to provide support for the ministry. In this way, someone’s talent in one area and lack of talent in another area stunts a ministry. The best corporations are built around a team of CEOs, CFOs, COOs, VPs, and Presidents. Somehow, though, we feel we can run ministries around one personality.

(3) They prefer short-term over long-term success. Sticking to a long-term plan can be the most difficult thing for a ministry leader. In a world where we have become hyper adaptable in all of life, ministry plans can be seen as far too flexible. Don’t hear what I am not saying. Plans should have some planned flexibility in them, but that is different from being overly flexible. Sticking to long-term plans means you will have to say “no” far more often than you want to. It means you will upset people. But, the way to galvanize people around a vision is to stick to it. You gain trust and respect of people when you honor your word year after year…even if they disagree! You prompt people to build into a ministry when they know the vision…and what is not the vision. As a ministry leader, you may think you will sleep better at night if you say “yes” to everything that comes across your desk. But…think about the root of that for a second. If you say “yes,” you have the illusion that people like you. All of a sudden your ministry has become about people liking and approving of you. What a small vision that is! Build a strong foundation by sticking to core principles in your long-term plan and you will be a part of building the kingdom. That, and not people’s approval, should cause you to rest easy!

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