3 Ideas to Help You Do Your Ministry Better
One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it allows anyone with some investigative curiosity to connect with people who have ideas and insight into how to do things better. My aim has always been to fill that role for you in the areas of music, ministry, worship, and especially, leadership. For now, though, I'd like to talk about something that I discovered in our process of trying to do things better.
Some time ago, I found a website called marketingsavant.com. Their materials helped us in the process of re-defining Creator's core values and marketing strategy (yes we are a ministry...yes we are a business...). Especially useful was their E-book “30 Ideas in 30 Days.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not being paid to write about this resource, nor will I benefit financially from any interaction you might have with them. What follows is in the spirit of sharing something that was helpful to us.
I can't cover everything, but I think three of the “ideas” might be useful to touch upon, and give you a flavor of why the E-book might be useful to you. I will characterize and/or rephrase the ideas to place them in the context of ministry.
- What Ministry Are You Really In?
Whether your ministry (and/or church) is in growth mode, or in decline, or seems to just plug along, at some point you will want, if not need, to define and/or redefine itself. In church after church, music and worship ministries have fallen under the influence of cultural changes, dealt with changes in staffing, faced decisions about the number and style of worship services, and many other issues you can think of. Too often, little or no thought (and less dialogue...particularly when the ministry is led by a part-time person) goes into a change.
The result is that almost everyone in a church will define your ministry way too narrowly.
Periodically (how about now?) it is useful to close the door, sit down, think about, and write down what ministry you are really in. Then take that new definition and think about (and write down) how to better serve those who interact with your ministry. What else could you do for them? What should you NOT do for them? How might you accomplish the goals of the last two questions above?
- Build Trust
I love this quote from the E-book: “Trust is simply one party's confidence that the other party won't exploit vulnerabilities.” Operating from a position of fear and distrust is not healthy for any ministry. Understanding the key factors that drive trust in your ministry relationships will enable you to evaluate every touch point that provides an opportunity to build trust. You may think I am talking about pastor/staff relationships, and I am, but I'm also talking about your relationship with the custodian, the congregation, and the newest member of the pre-primary choir.You can't be everywhere all at once. But your communication skills and the message you communicate (both directly and in sub-text) go before your ministry, and linger long after that ministry concludes.
- Relentless Focus
According to the marketingsavant people, focus is a discipline that individuals and ministries struggle to maintain. I know this to be true from personal observation, and it is perhaps easiest to see in the performance of your favorite sport team or individual. Tiger Woods was for a long time the model of a focused individual in the pursuit of his golf goals. Clearly that focus did not extend to his personal life.
Between emerging ministry opportunities, regular fire dousing, persistent local issues, and humans being human, it is hard to stay on track as a ministry leader. Remember that first item above? If you have figured out what ministry you are really in, the ability to focus becomes easier to measure. And measure it rigorously, and often. Don't cut yourself any slack.
Ministry (in most cases) is not brain surgery, but it is important work. The call to be in ministry is not something to be taken lightly. Focus is an interesting thing. It is almost impossible to be focused 24/7. Yet like long-distance runners who look for that “runner's high,” the more you focus, the easier it is to maintain focus.
Try this exercise this week. For 3-5 minutes (that's an anthem, or a band song, or a prayer, for instance) focus relentlessly on only what you are doing. To the best of your ability, eliminate everything else from your mind, and your agenda. Once you are able to do that, begin to increase the duration of your focus. As you get better at being able to focus, teach/motivate/cajole/ those who participate in your ministry to do the same. Start with an anthem, a prayer, or a band song. If and when it happens, (and I speak from experience) the impact will be astounding, both on those “doing” the ministry, and those being ministered to.
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