Design Your Ministry for Results

Small group ministry struggling to meet the objectives you’ve set?  Ending the ministry year and falling short of the goals that have been set for you?  Although there are a number of possible explanations, the most likely reason is that your ministry isn’t actually designed to accomplish the goals and objectives you’d like to reach.  If you want that to change, you need to design your ministry for results.

An Important Disclaimer: I realize that God makes things grow.  And you should, too.  This is not about that.  This is about our role in designing the ministry for results (and we do play a part).

Design your ministry for results.  Sounds more complicated than it really is.  Here’s what I mean.

First, understand the direct link between your results and your ministry design.  Don’t miss the fact that design and outcome are absolutely related.  Can’t find enough leaders?  Don’t blame the culture or the times.  In the same way a field of corn onlygrows according to a farmer’s goals and objectives when the conditions are right (rainfall, sunshine, rich soil, temperature, etc.), your ministry will only grow when environmental conditions are right.

Second, carefully analyze each of the environmental elements that affect small group ministry.  Here are a few of the most important elements:

  • Choice: If there are multiple options for the next step, don’t be surprised when unconnected people are indecisive.  Research has shown that there is a negative impact to too many choices.  Watch Sheena Iyengar’s TED talk on choice overload for more on this topic.  Prescription: Start a “stop doing list” and make a commitment to purposeful abandonment.  ”To call abandonment an opportunity may come as a surprise.  Yet planned, purposeful abandonment of the old and of the unrewarding is a prerequisite pursuit of the new and highly promising.  Above all, abandonment is the key to innovation–both because it frees the necessary resources and because it stimulates the search for the new that will replace the old”  (p. 33, Inside Drucker’s Brain).
  • Priorities and emphasis: If your culture is designed to promote every option equally, don’t be surprised when your most connected people are confused and overcommitted and your least connected people are unresponsive.  Fuzzy priorities delay action.  Prescription: Choose which option gets promoted.  Demand intentionality.
  • Expectations: We’re living in a time that would be completely foreign to our great grandparents.  Schedules.  Cost-of-living.  Mobility.  Extracurricular activities for children.  If you’re waiting for unconnected people to make the first move, adjusting their way of life to fit yours…you’ll be waiting a long time.  Prescription: Make it possible for a baby step in the right direction as a first move.  Remember, when youthink steps not programs you’ll design easy, obvious and strategic.

 

Third, make the changes you know must be made.  Once you understand the design issues that are determining your results, begin implementing.  Don’ t underestimate the tendency to search for a problem-free solution.  How should you implement change?  Fast?  Slow?  All at once?  Over time?  Your culture and history will determine that.  The key is to move forward.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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