The Three-Legged Stool of Successful Ministry

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Church, Leadership, vision

There are always ideas.  People are always offering suggestions on what you/the church should do in regards to ministry.  There really is no lack of ideas for what a church should or should not be doing.  The issue is discerning through the ideas to see what God is calling the church to do.  And so we listen to suggested programs, ministry opportunities, events, new directions, etc.  And then we pray and discern.   Besides fitting with the larger vision and calling of a church, my experience is that there are three elements that are essential for any ministry, event, or program to succeed.  Think of it like a 3-legged stool.  If just one leg is missing, there is no stability and the person attempting to sit on it will end up on the ground.  The 3 legs are:

1.  Vision. What is the compelling story that drives the idea?  Is it clear?  Is it identifiable?  Is it compelling?  Can the idea behind any ministry be communicated in a manner that compels people to want to be a part of it.  Does it have purpose?  Is there meaning?  Does this idea make sense to who we are and what we do (as opposed to, “Another church does it like this…”).  Without a clear and communicated vision, a ministry will end up being short-lived or, will wrestle through conflict and disappointment as competing assumptions and agendas arise.  This is the case often with a church’s Sunday School program.  “Why do we do this?”  Everyone scratches their head and can only answer, “Because we have always done this.”  Not compelling.

2.  Leadership. Is there someone (and I mean one person) who can lead this vision?  They can work with a team, there can be many involved, but is there someone who takes ownership and responsibility for the vision and can move forward in all that is necessary by way of communication, execution, and problem-solving along the way.  I’ve seen many “prayer ministries” attempt to come together with the idea that there isn’t any need for a “leader” and it would sort of be an organic free for all.  In the end, they have either failed, or someone who shouldn’t be leading, in the void of leadership took the reigns and led.  Nothing is more frustrating than showing up to an event, ministry, etc. only to stare at everyone around the table and wonder, “Who is leading this thing?”  You can have a vision for a great student ministry, including a great space…but if you don’t have a leader of student ministry…you will ultimately have no student ministry.

3.  Space. This is either in physical space or time. Many small group ministries fail because there is no space (by way of time) for them.  The church already does Sunday morning Bible classes, Sunday morning worship, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night Bible classes, ministry meetings on other nights…AND in addition, wants a small group ministry.  You can’t.  You don’t have the space available.  Small groups may have a great vision, and strong leadership…but if people don’t have another night of the week, you aren’t going to succeed.  You may have a compelling vision and leadership for a Christian school, but if all you have is a few classroom spaces in your basement, you aren’t not going to have a Christian school.

What are you trying to keep going but you probably should bring to an end because you are missing one or more in vision, leadership, or space?


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