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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.

09 Aug '11

Bigger is often not better

As one who works with ministries and ministry leaders I often hear rather dramatic plans for income expansion along with a tendency to believe that more ministry requires more people. I would offer some suggestions to think about coming out of many years of ministry leadership.

One: Bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger does not necessarily translate into greater ministry impact but what it does do is add a tremendous burden financially, administratively and in management. Because budgets and staff are things we can count, we often use them to define success - at least in the west. 

Success, however, is ministry impact and some ministries would be far better served to contract down to a core purpose, do that core purpose well and refuse to get sucked into ancillary things that are good but not core to who they are. A lean, nimble, "right sized" organization is better positioned for ministry impact than a bureaucratic, slow, undexterous large one. There are ministry organizations who have become so large that it is nearly impossible to change their direction and DNA. Don't assume larger is better.

Two: More money does not necessarily allow you to accomplish more ministry. I have a very good ministry friend whose plans always cost an amazing amount of money. I jokingly tell him that the right number is to divide his number by ten. He is never able to raise his large sums anyway. Resources are necessary for ministry. However, the thinking that "if I had more I could do more is often not true."

What is more important than how much money we have is how much we leverage the money we have for ministry impact. The issue is not the amount of money but the amount of leverage that the dollars we have can make. Often, there are ways of doing ministry that are far less expensive than we assume - if we are willing to rethink how we do what we do.

The positive thing about limited resources is that it forces us to prioritize those resources. Not everything we do has equal weight, importance or value. It is not a bad thing to evaluate and reallocate resources toward those things that will give us greatest ministry impact. Don't assume more money is the answer to your ministry's future.

Third: More ministries do not necessarily help you get where you want to go. Ministries often tend to add ancillary ministries in good times because they can. Ancillary ministries are things that are good but not central and core to who you are, what you have been called to do or where your expertise lies. Ministries can be like magnets picking up good things to do which actually detract from the central thing they do.

Every ministry needs to define what their core mission is and focus on being the very best they can be at that core calling. In fact, economic times like the one we are in right now force that conversation because good things many of us have been doing are no longer viable as donation income falters. It is very easy to stray from one's core calling. But it is in that calling, not ancillary callings, that you will have your greatest impact. So don't assume that more ministry is better ministry.