by Steve Gladen
One thing I have learned through the thirty years in fulltime ministry is your ministry will always drift from the course you set. It’s not good or bad. It’s just a reality. Even at Saddleback Church, a very proactive church in Small Group Ministry, we still drift. Why? Well, some of it has to do with Satan. When you aren’t focused, you aren’t effective. Some of it has to do with people. Sometimes our agenda gets in the way of what the church is trying to accomplish and knowing or unknowingly we cause drift. Sometimes the issue is with us as the Small Group Point person. As you lead your Small Group Ministry there are four important questions you need to review to stay the course. Pastor Rick has been great at drilling these into us as we set and correct ministry direction.
1. Why am I doing what I am doing? This is an important question that will focus your team (volunteers or paid staff). Be sure that you have the answer to this question in writing and ask your team to give you feedback. The answer to this question will help you stay steadfast in the direction Christ has called you to. When I look at my vision and mission, it helps me say strong when times are tough, and humble when times are good. Just as a compass can keep you true North, answering this question will help you to stay the course.
2. Am I giving my ministry my best? What are you spending your time on? When you look at your schedule, are you working on the stuff that matters? Is the 40 to 50 hours you give in fulltime ministry, or the 10 to 20 hours in part-time, productive and focused? What about resources? Are you using the resources that God has given you as a good steward? How about energy? Are you taking care of yourself so that you can give your best? Or is your 100% really like 85%. When you aren’t at your best, your ministry isn’t at its best.
3. What is not working in my ministry? This seems like a crazy question, but so often people can tell me what’s not working in their ministry, but when I ask what’s their plan is to correct that, there is a big pause. If you can point to things that aren’t working in your ministry, you need to do one of two things. First, either stop it or second fix it. If you are going to stop it, work with your team to make sure it is done in as gracious of a way possible. If you are going to fix it, get a plan together. That means you have a “what” are you going to do. A “when” do you want to do it by. Then a “who” is going to help make sure you accomplish what you want to do.
4. What do I need to let go of? This question goes hand in hand with the second question. Each question helps the other. Each answer serves to keep the ministry on course. What do you need to let go of? Is it a program or ministry? Is it personnel? Is it pride? Is it position? When you strive for too many things, you lack focus and thus your ministry drifts, sometimes without you being aware!
So take some time and answer these questions. I do. Although I don’t always like the process, it always benefits the church.
Steve Gladen is the Pastor of Small Group Community at Saddleback Church. His latest bestselling book, Small Groups With Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities is available on his website or through Amazon and various other book retailers.