Ministry to the Few is as Important as Ministry to the Many

God is more concerned with your faithfulness than your fame. Ministry to the few is as important as ministry to the many. While these two phrases might get you plenty of likes and shares on social media, they actually represent two of my deepest ministry scars.

“Can we please just play pool and hang out today?” said Joel.

I had crafted an epic eight-week sermon series on discipleship. I literally believed the heavens would open up, revival would break out, and my student ministry was going to triple in size. My city was never going to be the same! These students would almost instantaneously become like Christ. This sermon series was going to go down in the records of history and be canonized into thick, leather-bound books on the shelves of every seminarian—right alongside the sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and the Matthew Henry commentary.

So instead of following my normal pattern of dismissing whatever Joel said—because he was the lovable clown that didn’t know what the five-second-rule was—I actually agreed with him.

“Well, I was planning on starting our new sermon series today, but since—for some odd reason—you, Simon, Christina, and I are the only ones here today; sure, let’s do it. Let’s skip the sermon and just hang out!” And at that, I schooled everyone at a classic game of eight ball. (My dad owned a billiard hall while I was in high school, so I had a bit of experience when it came to pool.)

Typically, on a good Sunday, we had a few dozen students that showed up, so when Joel asked if we could hang out instead of learn, I thought to myself, Why waste this epic sermon on one student? I would then have to catch everyone up the next week, since this was part one of eight in this series. The logical thing to do was hold off on preaching this sermon until next Sunday. Also, this way, I could get one week ahead in sermon preparation. So not only did this benefit me, but it also made me look like the cool student pastor. It was clearly a win-win.

Until that afternoon.

Have you ever felt slightly off?

It’s like that moment, after entering the grocery store, when you suddenly feel like you forgot to lock your car doors. Or like that moment when you’re joking around with your friends and you take it too far.

Well, that’s how I felt when I returned home that afternoon. Something wasn’t right, and though I felt like I knew what it might be, I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to walk back to the car and lock the doors. I didn’t want to apologize to my friends for taking it too far. So I just tried to ignore that feeling.

No matter what I did to try to suppress that feeling, it just didn’t go away.

So I took a deep breath and decided to pray and ask the Lord why I felt the way I did. In that moment, I sensed the Lord saying, “That sermon that you worked so hard to prepare for was actually for today, not next week! It wasn’t for the masses; it was for the few.”

What at first seemed like a wise and common sense decision, ended up being the wrong one. And it was all because of my motives. I wanted to start the sermon series off with a bang and create momentum. I didn’t want to have to play catch-up with the majority of the students in my ministry. I wanted the sermon to have as big of an impact as it could. So naturally, I didn’t want to waste the sermon on a couple of people!

After repenting to God for being more concerned about my fame than being faithful with the message that he had entrusted me with for that Sunday, I ended up calling Simon, one of our leaders, to apologize. While it definitely felt awkward to apologize for not preaching and instead schooling him at a game of eight ball, during that call, as I listened to what he was going through, it clicked. That sermon was actually for him.

And that’s when I discovered that ministry to the few is as important as ministry to the many.

From that day forward, I promised myself that I would try to be faithful regardless of the size or perceived impact that any ministry opportunity had. Whether there was one person or ten thousand, I committed to choosing faithfulness and always bringing my A-game.

Instead of seeing every opportunity as a blessing from the Lord for Kingdom impact, I was judging effectiveness by attendance. My metrics were totally off. That experience, as minor as it may seem, was actually foundationally influential in shifting my perspective on success and effectiveness in ministry.

Now when it comes to developing a plan for discipleship and growth in your church, the one is as important as the many. In fact, the only way to see your entire church grow spiritually and numerically is to start by discipling one person at a time.

But how do you know when someone is mature? When someone’s been discipled?

Are there metrics or things that you can do that can predictably influence the formation and maturity of an individual? Actions that balance the tension between faithfulness and fruitfulness? Our work and God’s?

In No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, I unpack a different metric for maturity—one that’s based on one of the largest research studies done to date on discipleship. Pick up a copy today to learn more.


> Read more from Daniel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

My name is Daniel Sangi Im and I am the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. I lead NewChurches.com, an online hub for the mission of church multiplication. I am passionate about leadership and the local church. I love being a part of creating the systems, strategies, tools and resources to help new churches get planted, campuses get started, and multiplication to happen. Before coming to LifeWay, I served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, and Edmonton.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Ways to Reimagine Your Church’s Dashboard

When you think of Tesla, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

For most people, it’s electric cars, but what if I were to tell you that this was not going to be their greatest legacy? Yes, they did vastly expand the driving range of an electric vehicle from 73 miles (117 km) to 200 miles (320 km) on a single charge. Yes, they did reimagine the electric car and the way that it is powered. Yes, they did open up the black box on their technology patents so that other car manufacturers can benefit from and improve on their technology. However, since electric vehicles only account for one percent of the market, unless more people begin to buy electric vehicles, Tesla’s impact will be small, if not negligible. In addition, with the recent report that revealed Tesla loses more than $4000 on every Model S car that they sell, the future is looking dim for them.

Although Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, may want his company to be remembered for electric vehicle technology, he might actually be inadvertantly writing his legacy elsewhere. Even more than their advancement in battery technology, I believe that the greatest impact that Tesla will make in the automobile industry is from their dashboards. After all, while only one percent of customers might buy an electric car, one hundred percent of vehicles have dashboards. Have you ever seen the dashboard on a Tesla? It feels like a thing of the future. Not only have they gotten rid of all the manual dials and gauges and made them digital, but they have also reimagined what a dashboard could be. I wouldn’t be surprised if other car manufacturers quickly follow suit. Here are three ways that Tesla has reimagined the dashboard.

1. From static to dynamic. Most cars still have manual gauges to change the temperature, measure the RPM, or change the radio station. In the Tesla dashboard, everything is digital and dynamic.

2. From single-function to multi-function. If you look at the dashboard in a common vehicle, you’ll have single-function gauges. In the Tesla, you have the ability to display anything you would like on your dashboard. For example, you could measure the energy consumption on your car, while adjusting your car’s height suspension, and follow your GPS all at the same time. Your dashboards are digital screens.

3. From incremental to exponential advancement. Most of the advancements in cars are incremental. For example, instead of a manual temperature dial, you could have a digital gauge that acts like a thermostat. For Tesla, they broadened their field of thinking, combined disparate thoughts and concepts, and completely redesigned their dashboard, which has resulted in exponential advancement. Other companies are quickly following suit.

What if we took the ways that Tesla reimagined the dashboard and applied it to our church’s dashboard? Here are a few thoughts on reimagining your church’s dashboard.

Reimagining Your Church’s Dashboard:

1. From static to dynamic.

There was a day where we would evaluate the effectiveness of our church solely based on three measures: attendance, giving, and groups. Now there is nothing wrong with those measures, the only issue is that they’re measuring past events—they’re lag measures. They’re also static because you can’t affect them, you can only read them. What would it look like, instead, if we were to move from evaluating static measures to dynamic measures in our church? In other words, what would it look like if we began thinking in terms of lead measures for our church? To understand the difference between lag and lead measures, think about weight loss.

A lag measure is when you weigh yourself on a scale. A lead measure is when you track how many calories you’ve eaten in a day. Lag measures are responsive and static. Lead measures are active and dynamic. Basically, lead measures impact lag measures; they drive the results of lag measures. So what would it look like if we began measuring the things that dynamically affected attendance, giving, and groups? What if we began measuring the lead measures that were going to drive our lag measures?

  • For attendance, what if we began measuring things like, the number of touch points we have with our congregations during the week? Or how relevant our services are to the lives of our church members? Or how loud the congregations sings during worship?
  • For giving, what if we began measuring things like, how often we connect the offering time to the vision of our church? Or whether or not people see the relationship between giving and life change? Or what about the trust factor? Do people in your church see you as being transparent and trustworthy?
  • For groups, what if we began measuring things like, the number of life stories we received? Or the number of missional opportunities engaged?

The fact is, the more time we spend thinking through and crafting the right dynamic lead measures, the more our static lag measures will be affected—and hopefully improve.

2. From single-function to multi-function.

Instead of just measuring single components, like the number of small groups, or weekly attendance, what if we began cross analyzing how things affected one another? In other words, what if we developed new gauges that measured more than one thing? Or how things affected one another?

For example, instead of measuring just the number of small groups, what if we measured the number of small groups cross analyzed with the frequency that they meet, the location of the city that they’re in, and the number of times they engage in missional activity? By analyzing that situation, you might actually discover a new location for a potential church plant or campus of your church! That’s the beauty of multi-function dashboards. They’re more strategic.

3. From incremental to exponential advancement.

The reason Tesla was able to reimagine the dashboard was because they were looking elsewhere—they were broadening their field of thinking. If all they did was strive to copy what other car manufacturers were doing, then they would not have been able to develop such a different type of dashboard. In the same way, if you want to move from incremental to exponential advancement in your leadership, then make sure that you are reading books outside of the ministry world. For example, if you’re a church planter, read books on entrepreneurship. If you’re regularly preaching, study the best TED talks. If you’re a campus pastor, study franchising. If you’re a children’s pastor, then study adolescent development.

What do you think would happen if you reimagined your church’s dashboard? What would it look like if you began measuring different things? And measured them in a different manner? Just as Tesla reimagined the car’s dashboard, I hope this post will inspire you to reimagine your church’s dashboard and the metrics that you use to measure success.

Check out more blog posts like this and other helpful pastor and church planter resources at NewChurches.com.

> Read more by Daniel.


 Would you like to know more about developing dashboards for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

My name is Daniel Sangi Im and I am the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. I lead NewChurches.com, an online hub for the mission of church multiplication. I am passionate about leadership and the local church. I love being a part of creating the systems, strategies, tools and resources to help new churches get planted, campuses get started, and multiplication to happen. Before coming to LifeWay, I served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, and Edmonton.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.