When you think about ministry most think about sharing the Word of God with someone else or teaching others to obey Christ. We think about grabbing a bible and diving in. While this is the first and most important part, there is so much more to leading ministry in a church. As a Pastor or church staff member we are charged with making disciples of Christ and mobilizing God’s people to live on mission for Him. It’s this mobilizing and organizing of people that takes some real hard organizational work. It starts in prayer and in the Word. It starts by knowing Christ Jesus intimately and finding our identity in the gospel, but we must also grow in our leadership of large groups of people. With that said, there are three ministry non-negotiables we must keep in mind at all times.
You can share Christ with others and help people grow in the Word all day long, but if you can’t manage a budget you won’t last on any church staff. You can be the best bible teacher in the world, but if what you do is unorganized and under staffed you will not be nearly as effective as you could have been. Financial administration and basic planning and organizational principles are essential to effective ministry. You have to know how much money you have to work with then plan all events and programs in such a way as to best utilize those resources. Who’s in charge of the finances in the church? Is it a supervising pastor over you, a finance team, or in some cases a treasurer (I inherited that one in my first church….yikes!). It’s imperative that you work hand in hand with those in charge of the finances and keep them in the loop on expenditures weeks and in some cases months ahead of time so they can be prepared. On planning, what is your mission and your end goal? What do you want the ministry to look like? Now, how are you going to get there? What leaders are needed? What events and/programs or ministries do you plan to implement to get to your God glorifying goal? Many a church staff member has bit the dust because of poor administration. Always remember that every hour of planning is worth two in execution.
Once the Lord has given you a plan and you have the details in place, who needs to hear about it? The people we minister to have got to know where we are headed together and why we are going there. They need the basic who, what, why, when, where, and how questions answered for everything we do. Answering these questions clearly and early enough in the process puts change in your pocket as a leader. Forget to answer all these questions and you will have egg on your face big time and others will be skeptical of your leadership. Volunteers will get frustrated and your target audience will not respond. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the event or ministry start-up the longer and more creatively it needs to be communicated. We live in a day of continuous mass communication. When people don’t know what’s happening in our areas of ministry it’s a sad commentary on our lack of discipline and intention in what we do. Don’t let this happen to you!
When I first started in ministry I was a wide-eyed idealistic Student Minister. I would sit in my office for hours dreaming up all this awesome stuff to do to reach teenagers and then go out and do it. The problem was I thought just because I put something on paper and promoted it people would come to it. Work and school are required. Church is not. Once we have put a plan together, gotten our leadership team on board, and communicated it out to everyone that needs to know, now you have to do the hard one on one work of assimilating people into the ministry. You have to invite the unchurched and/or unengaged to come. You have to follow-up with emails, phone calls, coffee meetings, etc. with those who do come. If you need people to serve in a ministry, how are you personally recruiting people to do so? What are you asking them specifically to do and for how long? How do they sign up? One of the cardinal sins of preaching is not providing a way for people to respond to the message. If you’re preaching on salvation, invite people to trust Christ and sign up for baptism then have a clear and easy way to do so right there in the room. If you’re telling people that God says we should serve then where and how do they sign up to serve? If you want people to go on a mission trip, when and where is the next one and how do they register? If you’re preaching on tithing take up an offering! Assimilating people into ministry takes a lot of hard meticulous follow-up, but this is where the reward comes. This is the people work of ministry, it’s inviting people to Church and to Christ, then following up with them when they respond and helping them take the next step of obedience. That’s discipleship on a whole church level.
As we start a new year make a commitment to do the little things well. These three things may seem like little organizational things but I’m here to tell you they are huge. Work on them. Grow in them. That’s stewardship. You will be blessed in your effort.