Aligning New Ministries Within Established Churches

If you have ever designed a room or redecorated a house, you know that it is much easier to work with new furniture. You buy furniture with the room in mind. If it does not fit into the design of the room, you do not get it. The challenging part is figuring out where your existing furniture and pictures fit.

The same is true for alignment.

The most challenging aspect of alignment is pulling existing ministries and existing staff in the same direction, especially if they have been moving in opposite directions. It is much easier to align new people and new ministries to the overall direction.

If they do not fit, you simply do not allow them to begin.

According to the research we gathered for Simple Church, we found it is vital that you make sure new ministries fit into the simple process before they begin. Finding out afterwards is always too late.

We asked vibrant and comparison church leaders to state their level of agreement with the following statement: “Before we begin a new ministry, we ensure that it fits within our process.” Of the vibrant churches, 68 percent strongly agreed or agreed compared to 40 percent of the comparison churches. The vibrant church leaders tend to ensure new ministries understand their place in the process prior to their launch.

Checking the Fit

Before you purchase a new pair of shoes, you wear them in the store. You walk around in them. It would be unwise to buy them without knowing if they fit right. Shoes that do not fit are found at the bottom of your closet. They create more clutter. Checking the fit is essential.

Simple church leaders check the fit. Before a new ministry is launched, they ensure it is a viable part of the simple ministry process. They clarify specifically how the new ministry will move people through the process. And they ensure that the leaders of the new ministry understand how the ministry is part of the big picture.

We are drawing a distinction between a program and a ministry. Ministries are different from programs. Ministries are either entire departments (ministry expansions) or specific groups (see ministry additions) that help move people through one aspect of the process.

In a simple church new ministries can be divided into two broad categories: ministry expansions and ministry additions. Checking the fit prior to inception is critical for both.

Ministry expansions are new ministries that are geared toward a specific age group or life stage. The church ministry is expanding to focus intentionally on a specific group of people. The new ministry is going to be a new department within the church such as a new middle-school ministry department or young couples department. In both of these cases, these groups were formerly a part of a different ministry. Now they will have their own identity. For ministry expansions, begin the new ministry with the same simple process. Be sure the programs within this ministry are placed to move people through the process. Ministry expansions are a great opportunity to highlight the simple process. You can begin them without the clutter. You can use these new ministries to show existing ministries the benefits of a streamlined approach.

Ministry additions are new ministries that fulfill a specific function within the simple process. These ministries must be set up to help move people through the process of transformation. For example, the baptism ministry team makes it easy for people to move to baptism. The guest reception ministry helps move guests into the life of the church. If it is unclear how a ministry addition will move people through the simple process, do not launch it.

In either case, whether you are expanding or adding a ministry, always ensure the ministry fits within the larger church process and vision.

 

If you’re interested in evaluating the clarity, movement, alignment, and focus of your church, you can take a free online Process Design Survey at EricGeiger.com.

Adapted from Simple Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2006)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Well the church I used to go to in Carrollton Tx was a lot more friendlier. Maybe we need to learn from them, the one that I'm going to now is the SA and its in Manchester CT. The people rarely say Hi to me, but they greet my mom, because she has been a member for the past 30 yrs, and also because she give's a lot of money to the church. It seems they're so focused on tithes, which really turns me off, I would have to say they would get more people giving if they just say give what you can and nothing more, instead of 10 minute sermons on why tithes are so important. Also, put the collection into drop boxes or buckets, that is what my other church did in Tx and they would get thousands of dollars, of course it was a mega church, but that's not the point, the people were giving because they didn't feel like they were going to be punished if they didn't t give. It would also be nice to here a fire and brimstone sermon but I don't think I will ever hear one coming from the SA, or in other churches as well.
 
— Julie
 
Its important to measure leading indicators and not lagging indicators. People and contributions, for example, may not be a good leading indicators; they tell only what happened and not a prediction of what will happen. Consider the drivers that cause people to come, or be generious in their giving. You improve what you measure and if what you measure is impactful regarding the future you have the right metric. Don't measuring what was, measure and improve those things which will affect the future.
 
— David Johnson
 
I was on a committee that closed churches. It killed me that we could close a church one week and the next week it would open with a different name and different denomination and cars would be parked up and down the street. Why? Why? Why?
 
— Carolyn vines
 

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