Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When was the last time you sat in a dark room and came up with the next great idea that was going to revolutionize your ministry? It’s far more likely that some other ministry or business sparked that idea.
Maybe you were visiting another church on your family vacation and noticed something cool they did. Maybe you were more intentional and went to visit some other churches in your network.
Inspiration is a vital ingredient to solving your ministries biggest problems, but it is also the reason your ministry can completely stall.
I work with an extremely passionate leader named Tim. Tim is in the financial management world but graciously accepted the challenge of shepherding our campus’s Student Ministry teams. When Tim started he was a volunteer leader working with about 20 kids in a mobile campus. Every week we would convert a choir and band room to our student ministry “wing”.
After some time, Tim and his team started to see some growth and they wanted to make sure they capitalized on the momentum. So, as any great leader would, Tim began to visit some of the other Student Ministries in his network. He saw some fantastic student spaces, full time staff and some great mid-week ministries. Everything looked so much cooler than the converted band/choir rooms we would temporarily occupy on a Sunday morning.
I remember having a conversation with Tim and Brandon (one of his key volunteers) on a sunny Sunday afternoon after we had packed our mobile campus back into trailers. They had been working hard but were envying some of the other ministries in town...until they realized one simple rule:
Don’t take your cues from someone behind you.
What Tim and his team had almost lost sight of was the fact that they were doing a great job. So many of the ministries they were initially envying weren’t having near the impact they were. Sure, they had a cool space, and a full-time staff, but that wasn’t what this ministry needed. What they need to do was stay focused on their own context and do the best possible job they could there.
- Understand Your Context
Just because the ministry you envy has the building, or the resources, or the staff you don’t, does not mean they are worth mimicking. If you are a mobile ministry don’t use the excuse that you don’t have the student building the mega church has in the next city over.
Spend some time studying the strengths and weakness of your own situation. The energy doing that analysis is way better spent!
- Look for Similar Outcomes
Study the people who are succeeding in your type of ministry. If you minister in a diverse local community, look for churches succeeding in similar situations. If you meet in a theater, look at other churches that succeed there. If you are looking to grow your small group ministry, don’t just go look at a successful church, go look at one with successful small groups.
Tim (now on staff part time) and his team have worked hard over the last number of months and broke the 100 barrier this last weekend. They’ve still got work to do, but they know that the work ahead means working in their unique context on their unique goals.