As a church leader, you already have some ideals you are striving for to achieve high impact. Your church has some noteworthy positive strengths. Everything isn’t perfect, but there are some good things happening. And there are even more uplifting times to come. But you must choose where to invest your limited resources because you must do the best you can for the Master. Many have an idea to share with you that is better than what you had in mind. You must prioritize and make choices. What will it be?
More community involvement? More direct evangelism? Better teaching?
More fellowship? Deeper caring? High-quality music? State-of-the-art media?
Everything you do creates results. Everyone wants the best results for all their efforts. However, sometimes we get different — even opposite — results to what we intended. Sometimes we exceed our expectations but we seldom achieve all we would like to see. We are constantly looking for maximum impact.
If you can learn how to build a habit to find the most significant impact for modest effort and limited money, you will find life less challenging in some ways and far more potent in others. The church’s glory is where the impact is high, and the positive energy is palpable; it is beautiful experience. And you are on your way when you follow the guidance here.
A local church is a wonderful organism to lead because it is God-ordained. It is also remarkable because the constituents gather weekly, and you can get at them. While these concepts will work in any ministry, they are most potent where people get together weekly and have ongoing, more or less permanent relationships. The local church is the highest impact zone in the world. Taking the church’s impact to an even higher level is the yearning of every true ministry leader in a church. All the principles here are written with every local church in mind.
A Changed Church
It is one thing to desire a church with a particular set of characteristics; it is quite another thing to motivate and inspire enough people to participate in that characteristic so that it may be said the characteristic permeates your church life.
The question is, “How do you do that?” If you understand what needs to be done, have transferable concepts, and a careful action plan, it is possible to change people one person at a time. When enough people have changed, then your church has changed. Jesus did it. It’s called discipleship. That is the high-impact ministry zone.
You multiply yourself when you teach your disciples how to disciple others and then actually do it. I am not referring to the range of what we usually consider discipleship programs. Think broader than that. You have to get more people to communicate the right things to more people. If you talk to more people more often in more ways, you get more results.
A Changed Church — One Person at a Time
Perhaps one of the elements that cause resistance to any attempt at proactive church growth is the often unarticulated truth that while people change, and grace is the ultimate change agent, it would appear that people don’t change much.
For example, one might believe that getting a high percentage of church people into weekly small groups is important. Translating that into moving people one at a time makes the issue more difficult. If somebody wants to avoid getting involved in a small group regardless of all your energy to explain the benefits and to woo them into these new and glorious relationships with Christian friends, guess what? If they don’t want to, it’s over. There’s very little you can do to change their mind. Everything comes down to the complex motivational components in the individual’s heart. Maybe they don’t like you. Perhaps they have a secret they want to keep. Maybe they are mad at God. Perhaps they simply don’t want that much religion. Who knows? If you ask why they don’t want to get involved, they will not likely tell you the truth. It won’t help if you get frustrated and mad at them.
Fiddling with the color of your brochure isn’t going to do it. Inviting people more often might help and make them bail out on you completely. If they have decided an hour and a half on Sunday morning it is all they are going to invest, then that’s all they will give you right now. Full stop.
High impact isn’t something you create with a mechanical set of steps. It comes with a collective experience of genuine enthusiasm, love, unity, and pride. All these characteristics blend in the enigmatic experience called the atmosphere. Atmosphere may be hard to define, but we all know it when we see it.
Perhaps the greatest inhibitor to getting started is the fear that you will put yourself in another situation with conflict or rejection. The more hits you take, the harder it is to get up and try again. That is, it is more challenging if you just lie down and lick your wounds. It seems more comforting but really, it will just lead you to depression.
You may lie down and bleed for a short while when you get cut off at the knees, but you must get up to fight smarter the next day. The big mistake is letting anger control you so you simply fight harder and talk louder. The harsher and more strident you get, the less you will get done. Some people will appear to respond by letting you have your own way, but you will find over time these are often the people who bide their time waiting for a moment when you are at a low ebb. They will strategically punch you in the solar plexus at a time when you can least afford to withstand the blow. Oh yes, they will. They will get you in time if you let them. At a moment of vulnerability, you will see no other option and say something you regret that causes permanent damage. Even if you ask for forgiveness, your credibility will be diminished to the extent that you will lose your capacity to lead.
Before you give up or give in and settle on going with the flow, there are many things you can do. Take some time to refresh your soul. Read up on adrenal depletion and check your symptoms. You may be in a physical state that needs attention with a recipe of solutions. One of the subjects I explore with coaching clients is nutrition. When I suggest the subject area, they tell me they eat properly at least nine times out of ten. When I review their diet with them, I find they are way off course. Another area is sleep. They tell me that they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. That is actually a symptom of inferior sleep. Learn about that too and make a series of small course corrections to get yourself in shape.
I can only review some of what you need a check-up on here. Your doctor knows some of this subject area, but you need a professional Christian Life Coach. If you have trouble getting over something past, you need a Christian Counsellor. But if you are struggling to restart for the future, you need a Life Coach.
Sitting on one’s hands and waiting for the Holy Spirit to move people is inconsistent with the tone of Scripture and our responsibility as leaders. Passivity is no solution. Seeing our ministry as the responsibility to pour our lives into the lives of others one at a time helps us be solution-oriented.
If you are stalled, get started again. If you want even more, go for it.
Change up your recipe by changing up yourself.