Andy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church, a thriving multi-site church in Atlanta, Georgia. He has written a number of very helpful resources for churches and church leaders. One example is the book Seven Practices of Effective Ministry.
In this book, the authors, propose that clearly articulated and established principles enable you to work through the fog of information and emotion in order to find clarity and make the tough calls. They provide a context for all discussions and decisions. Ministry is more of an art than a science. We need to know what to ask not just what to do.
Practice #1 - Clarify the Win
It is impossible to know if you are making progress if you are not clear on the destination. This requires examining each and every church ministry, event and program and asking the question, "When all is said and done, what is it we want to look back on and celebrate?"
Do you know what a win is in your church or ministry? It’s difficult to tell when things are working well in church. A win is more complicated in church so knowing what a win looks like is all the more important. Do you have a scoreboard so you know when you’re getting ahead and your people know when to cheer?
No player in any sports team is confused about the goal. They may not reach it but they know what it is. If you give people a good goal then most of the time they’ll work hard to get there. But if the goal is unclear, they’re forced to guess, or worse, decide for themselves what a win really is. With or without a goal, people will work hard to get somewhere. The question is: Are they getting where you want them to go?
How do you clarify the win? Just ask yourself, ‘What is the most important thing?’ ‘Life change’ is our obvious goal but how do we measure that? Figure out where and how life change happens best and move people there.
In baseball the goal is to get to home plate. That’s where a win occurs. You have to decide where a win best happens for you. Is it your Sunday morning service or somewhere else? Once you know where it is, then you have to take the necessary steps to get there. Give people a clear target and they’re more likely to hit it.
Clarifying the win simply means communicating to your team what is really important and what really matters. By being intentional about defining a win you don’t accidentally communicate the wrong win or keep your team guessing about what is really important. Nothing hinders morale like separate agendas pulling against one another.
Advantages of ‘clarifying the win’:
1. You help keep your team on the same page. You avoid misalignment.
2. You manage resources more effectively.
3. You create the potential for positive momentum. Momentum is actually just a series of wins.
When people are winning they tend to … work harder, be less negative, trust the leadership, give more generously and stay involved.
Four steps to clarifying the win:
1. Sum up the win in a single phrase.
2. Keep the win as specific as possible. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
3. Restate the win frequently and creatively. Keep it in front of your team so you remind them what’s important.
4. Meet to clarify the win at every level. Most organisations have a mission statement and a list of carefully crafted values but few have summed up in a simple phrase what a win looks like at every level of the organisation. It’s not enough to ask, “What does a win look like for the church”. It’s not enough to ask, “What does a win look like for the youth ministry?” You should also ask, “What does a win look like for the Youth Small Group time?” Clarify a win for each program and each leader or volunteer.
Suggested ACTION Steps:
1. What was out last ‘win’? How did it affect attitudes through the church?
2. A mission statement establishes a win in a general sense but we need to get more specific. Clarify a win for every ministry then every program then for each specific staff, leadership or volunteer position.
3. List the areas where it would be most helpful to clarify a win.
4. Brainstorm creative ways to communicate the win within the church.
5. Encourage every ministry department to plan a gathering (maybe off site) to clarify the win for each of their ministries and/or programs.