Defining the process is formulating a strategy. It is agreeing to a blueprint. And this blueprint describes not only the kind of disciple that will be built but also how.
Church leaders must define more than the purpose (the what); they must also define the process (the how). My coauthor of Simple Church, Thom Rainer, discovered in his research on evangelistically effective churches that effective churches have leaders who are clear about the purpose of the church. Our research for Simple Church affirmed that finding and also reveals that it is important to be clear about the ministry process.
Michael Hammer is a business consultant who meets with organizations about their processes. The cost to attend one of his two-day conferences is more than two thousand bucks a person (ouch). He believes that the process is more important than the purpose of a company because it is the process that makes everything work. It is the how. He points out that the people within any organization must know the process because they are integral to fulfilling it.
The same is true for a church. People within a church must know the process because they are integral to fulfilling it.
Actually, the process is for them. It is designed for them, for everyone. The end result is their lives transformed. People are more likely to progress through the process if they know it. A clearly defined process encourages people to progress through it because they know the expectation. People cannot embrace the ambiguous.
How is your how? Do you have a process that is clearly defined? Following are three concepts to wrestle with as you begin to define a ministry process:
1. Determine what kind of disciple you wish to produce in your church. What do you want the people to be? Narrow this list down as much as possible.
2. Describe your purpose as a process. After you conclude what you desire people in your church or ministry to be, describe this in process terms. In other words, describe your purpose in sequential order. Process definition is much easier for church leaders if they describe their church purpose statement as a process.
3. Decide how each weekly program is part of the process. Let’s be honest; the programs and ministries are what people see. People forget the statements on the wall, but they know what programs you offer. Your programs say what is important to you; therefore, you must define how each program is used to produce the kinds of disciples God has called you to make. The programs must specifically be defined how they will be used to move people through the process of spiritual transformation. Your programs must be submissive to your ministry process. They are tools to facilitate the process of spiritual growth. Programs must work for your process, not the other way around.
Adapted from Simple Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2006)