Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Be Effective in Ministry

I hope the "Stay Motivated and Avoid Burnout" post encouraged you in your personal ministry. Today I'm continuing on that theme and have reposted an old post from an old blog below. It has some of the best ministry effectiveness principles you'll ever find. If you are tired of the same old ineffective and draining ministry model this will be extremely encouraging to you. The information below will help you become more effective that you ever dreamed. I hope it encourages you. 

One of our ministry philosophies is to invest our time and energy in low input, high impact opportunities. The goal of each steward, in the parable of the talents (Mt.25:14-30), was to be faithful with the little they had been entrusted with (Lk.16:10, 1 Cor.4:2) making the most of every opportunity to multiply the talents they had been given (Eph.5:16, Col.4:5). The charge is the same for each of us. A good investor makes a lot of money from a little; a bad investor makes very little or even loses what he had to begin with (Mt.25:29) - it is better to turn $100 into $1,100 than it is to turn $1,000 into $1,100 or to lose the $1,000. It is a peculiarity to me that so many ministers are satisfied with the latter option turning very much into very little more. The American Church model is addicted to high input, low impact ministry, throwing the pearls of our energy and time before the swine of the ineffective and status quo, business as usual with few measurable results (if you can’t name numerous people you’ve discipled and trained who are now multiplying to the next generations you are investing your time and energy in the wrong areas); that type of ineffective ministry results in the minister being trampled under foot and torn to pieces (Mt.7:6 - we’ve all been there!). How many pastors have left the ministry because of being burnt out after years of little visible fruit. We are destined for fruit that will last (Jn.15:16) and if we will but abide in Him, keeping His commandments, we will experience fruit in our work and surpassing joy in Him and our calling (Jn.15:1-12). The harvest is ripe (Mt.9:37-38) and we should expect results; when we don’t see them we should not sow less seed but more, and we should sow it in the right place - people (Mt.13, Mk.4, Lk.8). Everything we do requires time and physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual energy (Col.1:29 - I can either squander my own or thrive with His). The goal is to invest our time and energy in a way that multiplies instead of in things that end on a schedule. If I invest one hour and that hour ends at the end of the hour it is an hour I’ve lost forever. If I invest an hour and that hour continues to multiply for many more hours, I and the work I’m called to grow and win! A good investment makes continuing returns, bad investments make one time returns. So here is how you can determine whether you’re investing your time and energy in low input, high impact ministry or vice versa. Quantify the number of hours you invest in each given area and then evaluate how many lives are changed as a result (understanding that lives being changed has little to do with attendance and much more to do with testimonies - Jesus fled the crowds to be with the few - Mt.15:39, Lk.4:42, etc). An example of a low investment, high impact area of ministry for us is the Soularium outreach (see the picture above and a video below for more on that). All we do is schedule it and invite our students to help (this takes negligible time and energy) - each week 4 to 6 Christian students get to share the gospel with 3 or 4 non-Christians each. The result is staggering - 4 to 6 of our students grow tremendously (changed forever having learned practically how to share their faith) and 15 to 20 non-Christians are exposed to the gospel (changed forever having heard the good news). All this requires virtually nothing from us and has an immeasurable impact on the ministry, with results that multiply long after Soularium ends (some of these same students are now literally addicted to sharing their faith and we’ll run into them during their free time witnessing around town and several now want to enter full time Christian work). Comparing that to spending hours dragging people to something they don’t want to be at and won’t remember tomorrow illustrates the difference between each type of activity. The bottom line: if you’re to have the impact and influence He created you for you must start intentionally investing your time and energy in people and in multiplication; that in turn will increase your fruitfulness and preserve you, in the ministry, for the long run. Strategically evaluate which of your ministry activities require and drain you the least yet make a significant impact and do more of those activities; also evaluate which activities require and drain you the most while changing few lives and eliminate those from your schedule. Your time and energy are far too valuable - don’t cast them before swine.

For more on this, check out this video for the best effective ministry model you'll ever see:

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