Too often we copy what other ministries or churches do in our own efforts to be successful. We put a tree house in our children’s ministry area to attract kids because the big church down the street has one or we start a contemporary worship service for young adults to compete with the hip, growing church in town. We visit Willow Creek or Saddleback and try to make our churches just like them. Though well intended, most often these duplicitous efforts fail.
I believe that God has placed within each faith community a unique ability to offer Christ to a hurting world. Through a process of self-discovery, churches can identify how God is calling them to serve their community. Scripture reminds to shepherd the flock we’ve been given. Do we know the flock? Do we know how we’re supposed to shepherd them?
Discover what God is calling your congregation to do by trying the “Just One Thing” activity listed below. Before you begin, collect data about your church’s neighborhood by using zipskinny.com. Based on your church’s zip code, you’ll find information on income levels, educational levels, schools, etc.
Gather a few people from your congregation to form a small team. Present the data on your church’s demographics to the group. Pray over it. Ask people to offer insights, ask questions, and add additional information they may have. Take notes as people comment. Look at the information and imagine that you can do only one thing as a church for your community—just “one thing.”
- Ask the following questions to help the imaginative process:
- What would our one thing be, and how could we do it really, really well?
- What would make us extraordinary at that one thing?
- What would make it amazing and fun?
- What would make it awesome?”
Based on your answers, formulate a ministry plan and share it with the rest of the congregation. Paint a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve. People will say yes to a compelling vision that has a distinct purpose.
As you cast the vision, offer people specific ways they can serve in the ministry and invite people to consider how their particular gifts and passions might enhance the ministry plan. Think creatively to incorporate people’s existing gifts. Try using sentence starters such as “What if we…” or “How might we…” to allow for multiple ideas. Giving people the chance to determine how their gifts will be used fosters autonomy and mastery–two of the leading factors that drive motivation.
Once you’ve established your team, put your plan into action. Do your church’s “one thing” and do it well. Periodically, evaluate the ministry a modified version of the questions you answered at the onset.
- Are we still doing our one thing really well?
- What do we need to stop doing? Continue doing? Start doing?
- Is our one thing extraordinary? Do people experience the love of Christ through us?
- Are we having fun?
- Are we awed by the stories of God at work?
Be ready to make changes as the ministry unfolds, and share your stories, as you become the church that God has called you to be.