I never met a person in ministry who deep down inside didn't want to grow a vibrant ministry. Of course, there are probably a few out there, but overall, the reason why a lot of us go into ministry is to help as many people as we can find their way back to God. Way back in college, I would spend hours studying all the latest ministry methods and philosophies, with other potential ministers, so that we could discover the best way to create a strong and growing ministry. We all had the dream of creating a growing ministry that is impacting people on a deeper level. But having a DESIRE to see people come to God is the easy part, GROWING your ministry is the hard part, and MEETING the needs of a growing ministry seems almost impossible sometimes!
What is even more difficult is transforming an old and dying ministry into a healthy ministry that is truly reaching people. Honestly, the easiest way to do this is to let it completely die, but unfortunately, that is rarely an option.
Transforming a ministry can be as complicated as sculpting jello! Over the years I have been involved in transforming four major ministries. There are so many elements that go into turning a struggling ministry back into a growing ministry. Recently, I was talking with one of my old interns and we got on this subject. To help him visualize this process, I scribbled down the basics of how I usually tackle the task of getting a ministry back on track to becoming healthy.
Leadership Elements: (squares)
Leader Structure - Your ministry won't grow past the leadership structure you put into place. You cannot be at all places at one time, so you will need trusted leaders to ensure that the vision and goals are being completed. Now don't get me wrong, I completely believe that ministry growth is by God's Power and not by our own skills or effort. With that being said, I do believe that the Church Growth Movement has taught us a valuable lesson in developing a leadership structure to help set your ministry up for growth!
Leadership Recruitment - Bringing new people into the ministry at all levels is very important in keeping your ministry fresh and creative. I have heard that you will naturally lose about 3% of your volunteers every year. The better you are at recruiting the more stable your leadership team will be.
Team Building - Putting together a well functioning team can be an art. Learn new ways of creating good teams. The stronger the team, the healthier your ministry will be. (Check out, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni)
Leadership Development - Apprenticing your volunteers into higher levels of leadership is key to creating a healthy ministry. Apprenticing people is about passing your leadership knowledge to your team, so that they will be able to anticipate the way you would react to any given situation. When your ministry grows, you will need leaders that can think like you, grow ministry like you, and troubleshoot problems the same way you would. Eventually, when they fine-tune their skills, they will grow their own style of leadership that they will pass along to their teams.
Personal Elements: (circles)
Personal Habits - The mark of every strong leader is the creation of good leadership habits in their lives. Good habits can help you stay consistent, stable, and continuously growing. (Check out, Practicing Greatness : 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal)
Strategic Planning - Having a solid plan of action can be the most used tool of transitioning a ministry. I have seen many good intention-ed leaders fail because they didn't have a well thought-out plan.
Resources - No matter the quality of the strategic plan, if you don't have the resources to support that plan, it will never get off the ground. Know everything about your finances, materials, and people as much as you can.
Influence - Continue to grow your circles of influences. Get involved in other ministries within your organization and make friends! Remember, leadership is influence.
One more thing to keep in mind:
Conflict is always an ingredient of change; deal with it. It is virtually impossible during the midst of a transitioning ministry with so many diverse individuals to be happy with everything you do. Don't be naive in thinking that strong Christians who are spiritually healthy won't dislike your ideas, or disagree with the way you are handling things, or even not like they way you dress! Try to think of every conflict as opportunities to win people over to the cause of developing a healthy ministry. Don't lose heart in telling the truth, it will set people free!