A 7 Minute Read - By Chris Bright - posted on August 27, 2020

How to have a greater impact by doing less

Have you ever watched those hoarder TV shows? It’s the ones where there is someone living with so much clutter that they can’t see their sofa, bed or kitchen. They often have very narrow corridors lined with stuff that is piled up to the ceilings. Its particularly sad to watch, no one should have to live like that.

Then into the world swept the new craze of Marie Kondo. She showed us what real tidying could do, where we get rid of unnecessary books, clothes and junk and simplify our world. It’s something that always sounds so appealing – but so much hard work.

Our churches can often be a bit like these hoarder houses. We have ministries here, ministries there, ministries everywhere, but there’s no order to it. It doesn’t attract people into the house, in fact it makes it harder. You even struggle to know which room you’re in.

Perhaps Marie Kondo has got a lot to teach us about how to order our churches, not in her method, but in her sentiment. When churches are simple, minimal and clean, it makes our churches a more inviting space, a space where each room has its own function and where light can get in.

I think we all crave simplicity in many senses, but it can be hard to find. At thinking.church, we recommend that churches become ‘Minimum Viable Churches’ – that is, that they look to do as few things as possible, not as many as possible. This means that you can spend time thinking much more on the effectiveness and the results of each ministry, rather than getting bogged down in just keeping the various plates spinning. But how do you achieve that? Here’s 5 ways:

1. Focus only on who you’re called to reach

At thinking.church, we always say to ‘Don’t push ministry to people, create ministry for people’. There’s a subtle difference between the two. When you push ministry to people, you’re thinking about what you want to give in terms of ministry rather than what the people need that you are seeking to reach. By defining your target market, you can quickly start to eliminate ministries that do not serve that target market.

2. Create a clear Discipleship Pathway

A Discipleship Pathway is a clear pathway that will help people grow to become a mature follower of Christ. You then create your programmes to fulfil one step on the pathway. It’s just like the interior walls in your house. Without interior walls, there is only one space, and it gets harder to know which area serves which purpose. It’s the same in ministry, when each ministry has no clear purpose, it’s hard to know whether it being successful.

By creating a pathway, you can work out which ministries are worth keeping and which are worth pruning.

3. Do only what you can do excellently

In the business world, this is an absolute given. If your product isn’t excellent, it won’t sell. And you only sell a product you can make excellently. If you start making too many products and quality slides, so will your profits.

We need that same focus in the church. Its better to focus on a few selected ministries and do them excellently, with purpose, than attempt to do things half-baked. What kind of resource could you start to re-allocate if you could only run 5 programmes? How would you re-invest your time, money and staffing? Would it be more excellent as a result? I’d wager yes.

4. Set clear metrics for success

How do you know if a football team has won the game? Simple, they’ve score one more goal than the opponent. How do you know if your ministry is being successful? That’s a bit harder, but it’s worth spending the time to find metrics that will show if you’ve won the game or not.

It is very easy to make metrics fluffy. Setting goals like, “Everyone meets with God this morning” is impossible to quantify, it’s much better to set goals that you have a direct ability to influence.

By setting clear goals, you know whether the ministries you are running are being successful towards the overall goal of the church.

5. Say no by saying yes

You know the drill. Jean comes to your office and asks if she can start a parenting ministry. Emmanuel comes and asks to start a table tennis ministry, Gladys wants to start a Bible study on the book of Revelation, and Gary wants the church to start a catering ministry. We’re all much too familiar with these types of requests, and the church used to promote saying “yes” to everything. This meant that resources became stretched as everyone had a budget request and a volunteer need.

However, when you’ve got a clear discipleship pathway, and when you’re only focusing on ministries you can do excellently, you’ve got more clarity to say no. But it may not be the best move to say no to someone. Much more effective is to say no by saying yes.

You say no by saying yes when you empower someone to start ministries outside of the name and resource of the church. If Jean wants to start a parenting ministry say “Yes!” encourage her to start ministering to parents, wherever they are, but make it clear that you won’t be advertising it at church, it won’t be under the church’s name and you won’t provide financial support for it at this time. Besides, many of the community activities that churches run should be Mission Organisations rather than church-lead activities anyway. Everything gets permission, but only a few things get resourced.

What needs to be pruned in your church?

Pruning isn’t just a wise business practice, it’s a Kingdom practice. In John 15, Jesus talks about pruning, and God’s form of pruning is ruthless. If your church is too cluttered and resembling more of the hoarder’s house than Marie Kondo’s house, we can help. You can book a free 1-hour consultation with us to talk about how we can help you further.