While reading through some blogs this week I came across one posted by Inc magazine. It was about how to successfully start anything. A successful start begins by asking, "What does a wildly successful outcome look like?" What a powerful question for a church leader to ask when preparing to start a new ministry! Starting with this question allows one to work backwards to design the ministry in a way that is more likely to produce a successful result.
As a pastor I often began new ministries, new sermon series, and just about anything else new hoping for a positive outcome. Sometimes the outcome was OK, sometimes not so great. How much better could those outcomes have been if I had started with an image in my mind of what a wildly successful outcome would look like? Obviously, there is no way now to know the answer to that, but my guess is that many of those efforts would have been much more successful than they were.
For many small church pastors the idea of wildly successful seldom crosses their minds. It's too tempting to focus on the limited resources, the traditional mindsets found in many small churches, the resistance to change, and many other limiting thoughts to think about being wildly successful. We're satisfied with a positive outcome that doesn't create too many problems for us and/or our churches. Unfortunately, that is a management mindset, not a leadership one.
One of the greatest needs in our smaller churches are leaders who are willing to raise their sights and that of their congregation. It's time we stop being satisfied with OK and begin to pursue excellence in all we do. How do we preach about God in all His glory and then be satisfied with offering Him our OK efforts? In the OT He expressed His opinion of the sacrifices the Israelites were offering Him; the blind, crippled, diseased sacrifices were not acceptable. Is there not a parallel here with our attempt to offer Him our less than best efforts in ministry?
If we want our service (worship) to be acceptable to God then we have to seek ways to be wildly successful in our ministry efforts. I would challenge you to refuse to start anything new in your church until you have a clear, mental image of what the best possible outcome of that new work would look like and then plan the steps that will help achieve that. It could be a life-changer in your church and in your personal ministry.