Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do something

I enjoy reading Larry Winget's books and right now I'm reading No Time for Tact.  It's broken down into daily, bite-size readings that are vintage Winget.  He shoots straight from the lip, doesn't beat around the bush, and is usually right in what he says.  A recent reading said, "Implement now - perfect later."  That is a saying that should be on many leader's desks.

Too often we want to wait to begin something after we've got it perfected.  The problem with that is by the time we get something perfected we might not need it any longer.  That causes us to lose whatever benefit we might have received by going ahead and implementing it sooner while we continue to fine-tune it.  Another problem with that approach is that we often don't find many of the problems with something new until we've used it for a while.  We delay and delay making some needed change while we continue to improve it, and then after the launch we find we still have to make some changes.  In this time of rapid change throughout our society we need to be willing to experiment with new things. When we identify something that needs improved we must have the mindset that we'll try something that seems to make sense and make improvements to the process as they are needed.  Will mistakes sometimes be made?  Yes, but they will often be less costly to the church than doing nothing, and I would rather be making mistakes while trying to improve things than making the mistake of doing nothing but watching things fall apart around me.

Back in the 1990s when I was working in a factory we called Winget's suggestion "Continuous Improvement."  The mindset in industry in those days changed from making a few big changes that would create a big boost to the company's productivity to making small changes as rapidly as possible.  Production and quality engineers determined that many smaller changes instituted frequently made a bigger overall difference to the company than a few big changes made occasionally.  That theory was proven correct, and I believe it is also true for churches.

For an example let's say that a church wants to improve its discipleship program.  Many churches would form a committee to study the problem, call in denominational resources, and after several months of study would propose a change in a business session of the church.  Assuming the change was approved it might take additional time to identify someone to lead the improved program and get the needed resources.  People to participate in the new program would be recruited and a launch date set.  It is likely that the initial launch will reveal some things that were overlooked in the initial planning, and the program will have to be changed.

Could it have been better for church leadership to develop a beta test for a new discipleship program and begin it almost immediately?  Participants could help select material and resouces that would speak directly to their discipleship needs.  People with the appropriate spiritual gifts could be asked to lead this program, and they would meet with church leadership weekly to discuss what is working and what might need to be changed.  While people are being discipled, the program is being improved until finally the weekly meetings are no longer needed.

Someone may be asking, "But what if it didn't work?"  So what?  That means you've discovered one thing that won't improve your discipleship program, so you scrap it and try something else.  The key is that you don't give up looking for a better process for improving the way you minister to others and disciple believers.  Remember...there is always one more thing you can do to get the results you need, and if you won't give up you will eventually find the thing that will work best in your situation.

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