7 Questions to Ask When Striving to Improve Ministry
I talked to a pastor not too long ago and this guy really has it all together. He’s strong administratively and organizationally, he can preach and he can lead. In fact, he’s a very good leader.
He knows he has a good number of healthy ministries and certainly knows he has some that need some shoring up. As we talked, he acknowledged that even his strong ministries can be better. He’s a very wise pastor.
In this post we’ll look at the following 7 questions to ask when striving to improve ministry:
Why does the church do this particular ministry?
Is this ministry accomplishing one of the church’s values?
Why do you feel it needs to improve?
What would it look like for this ministry to operate one level higher than it is currently?
Are the right people leading this ministry?
What do you sense from God regarding this ministry?
What does the lead pastor need to do to improve ministry moving forward?
(NOTE: This is part 3 of a 3-part blog series to help you improve ministry. In part 1 we addressed how to create a culture of church improvement. In part 2 we talked about the top 8 areas of ministry to improve. And here today we will share 7 questions to ask when striving to improve ministry.)
Church of Excellence?
No matter what size your church is, improvement is the name of the game if you want to keep reaching more people and seeing the church grow.
Frequently, I’ll have a pastor tell me their church is a church of excellence. I always find that fascinating. While I understand what they are trying to say, I tell them to ditch that word.
Don’t be excellent. Why?
Because if you are a church of excellence that implies a couple of things. First, you think your church has arrived, and second, that you are at the top of your game. There is some defined perfection and you have reached it.
Really? No ministry and no pastor have arrived. There’s always more that can be done. You can always improve ministry.
Spiritually attuned and savvy leaders always look for ways to create a culture of church improvement, as we noted in Part 1 of this three-part blog series. It’s not about excellence. It’s about improving ministry.
Once you come to the realization that you need to improve your ministries, there are 7 questions you must ask yourself.
7 Questions to Evaluate & Improve Ministry
1. Why does the church do this particular ministry?
Knowing the “why” behind any ministry will do more to set the stage for future advancement and to grow the church than anything else.
Here’s what I see way too frequently. Churches do ministries because they’ve always done them. I know you would never do that, but it happens. So, taking the time to address the “why” is critical for every church to do.
Central to doing any ministry is the mission of the church. In one way or another, your church’s mission needs to be about reaching spiritually lost people with the gospel and discipling them in the faith.
Mission is everything! In fact, I would argue that without the mission of the church, the church really has no reason to exist.
If the pastor truly wants to get better at ministry, it is critical that they understand the “why” of each ministry better than anyone.
And once that understanding is clear in the pastor’s mind, they must work diligently to inculcate that “why” into the minds and hearts of the staff and volunteers. When they do, they will find the church doing church better.
Once people understand why you are asking them to serve in a certain ministry, you will see phenomenal things happen driving to the mission of the church.
When mission wins, the church wins. The stage will be set for you to grow the church.
2. Is this ministry accomplishing one of the church’s values?
Core values are everything. It is critical to know the church’s core values. The ministry in question must always align with at least one and maybe more of those values.
I see churches that really desire to get better at ministry, fumble around trying to improve and never quite hitting the mark. One wonders why. It is in large part because they’ve failed to define core values.
Now, if I’m trying to help the church grow, I will be talking with the pastor and leadership about the identification of core values.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of the church or ministry. Core values help churches determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide.
When the leadership takes the time to actually define goals and corresponding core values to reach those goals, they are improving ministry.
A church that has a clear set of core values and zeroes in on one or more of them in their effort to determine if a particular ministry is accomplishing that value, is well on its way to doing ministry better.
(NOTE: Is your church positioned for growth? Take the 3-Minute Church Growth Audit to find out! Click here)
3. Why do you feel it needs to improve?
There needs to be a compelling reason for why you feel a particular ministry needs to improve. You must be able to articulate that compelling reason as you move forward.
Now, clearly every ministry “needs” to improve. That’s a given. However, it is the articulation of the “why” that will move the church forward in improving ministry.
You can’t respond to this question with, “just because.” I mean, you can but you shouldn’t.
The best leaders ask how to improve ministry AND define the reason for the desire for the improvement. In doing so, it dramatically improves how the staff/volunteers respond to the improvement being sought.
Spiritually savvy pastors learn to articulate their feeling or sense of why something needs to improve.
Again, everything needs to improve all the time but reminding the troops of its importance is central to the role of pastoral leadership.
4. What would it look like for this ministry to operate one level higher than it is currently?
If the pastor is really interested in doing church better, then doing each ministry better is the key to building a sustained, growing church.
I like to use a number ranking when talking to a pastor about improving ministry. I ask, “Where do you see ABC ministry on a scale of 1-10?”
If they suggest something like a 5 or 6, I ask them to tell me what it would look like for that ministry to get to a 7. I don’t ask them to tell me what it would look like for it to reach a 9 or 10.
Why? Because stretching up to a 9 or 10 seems out of reach. But to get to a 7 seems doable.
One of the roles of the pastor is to set vision just a bit in front of what people think they can achieve.
Wisdom says much will be achieved by people who believe they maybe can stretch one notch higher than their current status. That is true for ministry, for sure.
The pastor must be able to envision ministry better than it is currently and they have to define what that looks like. Further, they are able to identify the needs that would exist when it is functioning in that manner.
When the pastor can do this specific to their local church, mission is accomplished.
5. Are the right people leading this ministry?
Maxwell says it and we all believe it. “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” The key leaders you put in place must be up to the challenge of doing ministry better and in turn helping the church grow.
Jim Collins is famous for the “bus” illustration, get the right people in the right seat on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus.
The question for the pastor is, “Do you have the right people leading the ministries you’re trying to improve?” This is one of the more delicate issues pastors face in leading growing churches.
(NOTE: Is your church positioned for growth? Take the 3-Minute Church Growth Audit to find out! Click here)
If the church really does want to get better at ministry, then the pastor needs to be diligent in one-by-one assessing the leadership of each ministry, determining the right fit for leadership.
This does not mean wholesale changes have to take place, although they could. It does mean, however, that to grow the church, the right staff and volunteer leaders must be in place.
Otherwise, all the efforts at improving ministry will be for naught.
6. What do you sense from God regarding this ministry?
Your work in the church is spiritual in nature. God directs your steps. He births ministries in your heart. What is He saying to you?
This is one of the most beautiful aspects of leading ministry. You are not doing this alone. As the lead pastor, you have the wonderful privilege of going to the Lord in prayer seeking His guidance on what he wants for your ministries.
Pastors who take time to pray, seeking the mind of the Lord, are able to direct the steps of the church in helping the church grow.
If you really want to get better at ministry, want to grow the church, then it all starts in prayer. It starts with you gaining this sense from the Lord as to the direction for improving ministry.
It can be done. And when it’s done, you’ll have the confidence that you’ve done all you can in moving the ministries individually and the church collectively forward to the success of the mission of the church.
7. What does the lead pastor need to do to improve ministry moving forward?
Change happens, improvement happens, when pastors learn to step up to the plate and lead.
The status quo is not acceptable to pastors who are desirous of doing ministry better. Lead pastors who are successful at changing the status quo know that to do so requires intentional action on their part.
- Pray – These pastors know of the importance of praying, asking the Lord to guide their thoughts and actions on how to improve ministry.
- Coach – Coaching pastors instill confidence in the teams around them that church improvement can happen. They help people believe.
- Model – Lead pastors who practice what the preach, see others following their lead and the potential to grow the church jumps exponentially.
- Motivate – They know they need to motivate the good people in the church to be ready to change, to improve ministry. These pastors are inspiring others to improve.
- Get active – Nothing happens in moving the church forward if the lead pastor is not actively and aggressively seeking to make it happen.
With this intentionality, the man or woman serving as the leader must be introspective in how they evaluate their own role in improving ministries. The buck does stop at the top!
When you ask these seven questions, you will find answers within yourself and in the team around you. So, ask the questions.
At the end of the day…
It’s all about reach, influence and improvement. If there are ways to improve ministry and those improvements result in more ministry participation, who wouldn’t want that, right?
Well, it will happen when you make an intentional effort toward church improvement.
The mission of your church is too great to not strive to improve each ministry under your charge.
Ask questions. See answers. Pray for the Lord to show you the path to improvement.
When you do you will see that which you strive to improve actually make the improvement … and the church will advance. That is your prayer and it is mine.
Be sure to catch the full 3-part blog series:
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