The Apologist's Evening Prayer (C.S. Lewis)
7 Practices of Effective Ministry: #3 Narrow the Focus

7 Practices of Effective Ministry: #2 Think Steps Not Programs

7 principlesPractice #2 - Think Steps not Programs

All church ministries and/or programs should take people somewhere not just fill their time. Ask yourself, "Where do you want your people to be?" "What do you want them to become?" "Is your ministry or program designed to take them there?"

Figure out how to change lives then do that one step at a time. In baseball, the ultimate goal is to get to home plate but you have to get to first base first then figure out how to get to second and third before getting to home. Thinks steps, not programs.

Don’t mistake activity for progress. Programs can lead to life change or they can just become a way of life. If all your activity isn’t taking people where you want them to go then it’s just a waste of time. In fact, you’ll frustrate people by giving them a clear vision, without a strategy for achieving it.

A good step is – easy, obvious and strategic.

1. If it’s not easy for people to do, then they won’t do it. You can blame their lack of commitment if you want, but ultimately it’s your fault because you expected too much of them. If steps are easy you increase the likelihood of achieving your goal.

2. If it’s not obvious, your people may go the wrong way. You don’t want them to have to guess what the next step for them is.

3. Each step has to be strategic. It’s part of a strategy for moving people from one place to another. If a program isn’t a step that is part of a strategy, then it can waste a lot of time and money. It’s often good things that knock you off target. A flood is simply a river that couldn’t decide where it wanted to go.

Before you start anything, make sure it takes you to where you need to go. Competing programs can fight for budgets, calendars and volunteers. The gravitational pull of a church is usually toward over-programming. You must be ruthless at determining to say ‘no’ to everything that could keep you from arriving safely at what you have determined is home plate.

‘Programs’ are usually created to meet specific needs that have surfaced. In contrast, ‘steps’ having a primary goal of helping someone get to where they need to go rather than just meeting a need. A step is part of a series of actions that systematically take a person somewhere. When you think ‘programs’ you start by asking, “What is the need?” and then you ask, “How are we going to meet that need?” The result is a program-orientated ministry – it is designed to meet a need. When you think ‘steps’ you start by asking, “Where do we want people to be?” and then you ask, “How are we going to get them there?”. The result is a ministry that works as a step – it has been created to lead someone somewhere.

Think about helping people take the next step in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to keep people moving toward spiritual maturity. Think about helping people to grow in their relationships.

North Point believes that discipleship happens most naturally in the context of meaningful relationships. They have learnt that meaningful relationships are most likely to develop through the dynamic of an active small group. It’s not that a small group is the only place for discipleship to occur but it just seems that it happens best with a group of friends who are ‘doing life’ together.

For them the answer to “Where do we want people to be?” became there small group ministry. The small group is their home plate as it is the best place for individuals to experience ministry, accountability and life change. Now they work on creating specific strategies that will be steps to helping people get into a small group.

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