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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

10 Nov '13

Resource scarcity and its gift to ministries

Posted by T.J. Addington
I often work with ministries that have limited resources or that find themselves in place where historical resources are no longer available. The immediate thought is that we must prepare for the "worst possible situation." It is a message of bad news and frequently discouragement. 

I disagree! 

Let's start from a theological perspective. Ministry belongs to God so my assumption is that He provides what we need while not always what we think we need or what we want. There is a difference. Certainly we need to do our part but in the end what we have came from Him and I have to believe is what He wants us to have at the moment. There are also times when our constituents see flaws in our ministry and choose to give less or not at all which should cause us to look closely at our ministry.

Further, hard times bring out one of two responses in leaders. They get discouraged, beat up their congregation  (you did not give enough) or themselves and panic. The other response is to actually bring out the very best leadership because the financial situation requires it. 

Winston Churchill was at his absolute best in the crisis of the Second World War not before or after. Challenging times should focus leaders like never before to get to the core of their mission and ask the question, what would it look like if we did things differently with the dollars we have. In many if not most cases they realize in that process that they were not operating with all the right people and with the greatest inefficiencies possible. When money is good, we get comfortable, when it it scarce we must rethink what is truly necessary. It is in the lean times that we find the most leveraged ways to do ministry frequently pushing us toward effecient multiplication.

In working with one ministry short of funds I asked them to consider several questions:

One: What do we think God is saying to us?
Two: If we were to build our ministry today from the ground up what would it look like?
Three: Does our current structure lend itself to what is mission critical or doe it more reflect who we were in the past?

This caused robust dialogue and we started to see the organization in light of new paradigms. I don't see scarce resources as a negative but as a net positive. It is not the worst case scenario but a significant opportunity to do more with less and within what God provides. In lean times we are forced to be the best stewards and the best leaders.