Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Your church will accomplish more by doing less

A common complaint in many smaller churches is the lack of commitment people have, but in reality I find that most such churches are actually over-committed.  They are structured for a time when they were probably a much larger congregation and have far more committees and boards than they need.  These churches often find it difficult to fill all their teaching and leadership slots and can only do so by having people volunteer for four or five positions.  If you want, you can argue that if more people would accept these positions then the few who are willing to work wouldn't have to have so many responsibilities.  However, the reality is that the Pareto Principle is alive and well in the church.  Twenty percent of the people are going to do eighty percent of the work.  Stop fighting that, accept it as reality, and adjust your workload accordingly.

When I meet with churches having this problem I assure them that if half of their committees and boards never met again, no one would be able to tell the difference.  Yes, some of these are needed in the church, but ask yourself how much real value do most of these add to your church.  How has your church been significantly impacted by the work of most of your committees?  The only reason some of them are still in existence is because they were created years (decades) ago to meet a real need, and no one has had the courage to suggest they are no longer needed.

Along the same line, many small churches try to offer too many programs and ministries for the resources they have available.  They do this thinking they must compete with the larger church in town.  That is like a Mom and Pop store thinking they have to compete with Wal-Mart on price.  It's not going to happen!  Mom and Pop, if they are to stay in business, have to find something that sets them apart from Wal-Mart and compete in that niche.  Small churches are the same way.  You cannot offer the same ministries the largest churches in your community offer because you do not have the manpower and finances to do so.  Attempting this will result in doing many things mediocre, and you cannot build a ministry around mediocre.

A much better ministry strategy is to identify the giftedness of your people, find out what they are passionate about, and then prayerfully begin to discern how God would have you use that to meet ministry needs in your community.  Believe me, there are many such needs going unmet where you live.  I am convinced that many smaller churches are uniquely positioned to meet those needs, and it is there where those churches are going to thrive.

However, you won't be able to do this if you insist on continuing to ask your twenty percenters to do more and more maintenance-type work.  They only have so much time to invest in church work so you want to use that time wisely.  Eliminate the tasks that add little if any value to the church and free people up to do ministry that will make a difference.  Then begin the task of discerning how to have the greatest impact on your community for the Kingdom of God.

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