Often when planning we start with the end in mind and work back. This is a great model. After all, how do we define success if we don't know the target at which we are aiming? In the ministry, that target is often not a single point in time or a one-time shot. Rather, the ministry project is often ongoing or repeating, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. We first need to ensure the idea, project, or event aligns with the church's goals.
While each of the following filters is important for one-time events, they are exponentially more important for projects or events which will happen more than one time.
It should all start right here. If all you have is a good idea, but the Holy Spirit is not prompting you to do it, then all you have is “busyness.” Pray through the idea to ensure it is Spirit led. Stepping through the next steps below can help with that discernment as long as you don't fail to pray about the idea. Did I mention to be sure to pray?
A good idea can be a distraction from what God has really called your church to do. See my post 4 Key Questions When Setting Goals for more about this concept.
If this will be a recurring event or project, is it reasonable that your church could sustain the momentum? If so, at what frequency? For example, it takes a lot of servants to plan and execute Vacation Bible School (VBS). VBS can be Spirit Led and Strategically Aligned with your church. Should it happen every month of the year? Most likely not because most churches could not sustain VBS at that frequency. Some churches may find it difficult enough to hold VBS once per year. If that is the case for any program, event, or project, the hard question then becomes, “Should we be doing this at all?” The answer may lie in scaling back what you do rather than not doing it, but when something is not sustainable, either it cannot happen, or something else must be removed make this one sustainable.
Will there be children or youth involved? Will money be present? Are there any type of security related items that must be addressed? If so, can you address those concerns?
As your church grows, it will need to do things on a bigger and bigger scale. Is that network going to handle more computers? Is the nursery wing you are building going to be full the day it opens? How easily can you add capacity? Are you installing a new phone system? Make sure your extension numbers are not one digit long if you expect to grow beyond nine phones.
This has as much to do with timing as anything. If you have made it through all the other questions, asking if it makes sense to do it now is important. If there are too many other things going on, placing one more project, event, or program into the mix may have negative effects on them all.
Will this project have technical, physical, or other types of resources that will require some level of support? Does your organization have the resources to provide this support? Do you need to ramp up servant-led support teams to support other initiatives? If support cannot be given, a very negative result could be frustrated and demoralized servants.
Okay. So the idea has passed all the above “S” filters. If the idea did not originate with the senior leadership, do they support/endorse it?
What filter(s) may be missing from this list? How can you see these filters facilitating the decision-making process in your ministry? Add to the discussion by leaving your comment below.
Steve's passion is to help ministers and churches do ministry in our new digital, social, mobile world at the speed of life through building a strong ministry infrastructure (minfrasTructure). With a background in church administration, Christian education, missions, and technology, he offers advice, tips, and tools through writing, blogging, speaking, online courses, consulting, and personal coaching.
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