A ministry strategy is great. A ministry strategy with continued strategic thinking is even better. It is possible, and common, for a ministry leader to implement a strategy and then fail to think strategically. Without continued strategic thinking, over time an articulated mission and strategy tends to gets buried beneath a bunch of un-strategic thinking and clutter. I shared 5 ways strategic ministry leaders think differently in my last post, and today I am going to finish the list:
- They ask, “Can I set the example?”
- They think process over programs.
- They care about the “how” not only the “what.”
- They think first about tweaking essential programs instead of starting new ones.
- They believe white space on a person’s calendar is spiritual.
6. They look to add energy to their discipleship process rather than steal energy from it.
Wolfgang von Goethe famously said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Strategic leaders not only guard against focus and resources being taken from the essential, but they also look for opportunities to add energy and focus to that which is most essential. Think of Easter weekend. No church leader I know thinks, “let’s have our normal weekend services and then do Easter services on Monday this year.” That would be foolish. Easter weekend is a great example of an essential program (a weekend service) getting more energy and focus. Of course, Easter weekend does because it is the day that we celebrate our Risen Savior and nothing should get in the way of that. Strategic leaders think that way all the time, not only about Easter weekend.
7. They build on-ramps and despise cul-de-sacs.
Building an event or a program as a cul-de-sac is to build an event/program that is an end in itself. The “win” is the event. Viewing the program/event as an on-ramp is to always ask “what is next for the people we are serving?” “How are we nudging them forward in their journey with Christ?” The win is not the event itself but the continual movement of people towards maturity in Christ.
8. They believe complexity and clutter are poor stewardship.
Strategic ministry leaders understand the connection between stewardship of time and resources and wise strategy. Complexity and clutter are more expensive than most leaders realize. To finance something that is not essential to a church’s discipleship process takes program dollars, staffing time (which is dollars), and promotional dollars. And time and energy that could be devoted to something more important is lost (known as opportunity costs). One of the reasons wise ministry leaders abhor complexity is because they value stewardship so much.
9. They know that the important first steps need intentional shepherding.
There are critical moments in a believer’s journey, in terms of their relationship with a community of believers, that need intentional care and shepherding; the first time someone expresses interest in joining a small group, the first time someone gives to the church, the moment someone declares faith in Christ, the first time someone volunteers to serve others through the ministry of the church, the first faith adventure/mission trip, etc. Strategic leaders don’t only think about those moments, but they think about how to provide care for people after those moments.
Martin Lloyd Jones said, “A pastor is a man who is given charge of souls. He is not merely a nice, pleasant man who visits people and has an afternoon cup of tea with them, or passes the time of day with them. He is the guardian, the custodian, the protector, the organizer, the director, the ruler of the flock.”
Organizer. Director. Ministry leaders can be both spiritual and strategic and the flock benefits from both.