A lot has changed with respect to ministry planning in the past few months. A year ago, a congregation’s ministry horizon was, generally speaking, 3-5 years into the future. Major decisions demanded attention but they could be implemented in a relatively unhurried way. With the onslaught of Covid-19 a congregation’s ministry focus has shortened to weeks instead of years into the future. The future is knocking on every congregation’s front door. That future is filled with Gospel opportunity. To embrace this opportunity churches must remain nimble and renewal leaders must have permission to pivot quickly. Borrowing from an American football analogy, renewal leaders must be allowed to call audibles as post-huddle developments rapidly change on the field. Without agility churches will miss ministry moments that can lead to an abundant ministry future.
Here are 7 commitments that build greater ministry agility:
Commitment 1: Create nimble organizational structures
Most church governance structures are built for thoughtful planning, good checks and balances, and a maximum number of voices shaping decisions. That process was built for a much slower time. New streamlined structures must be developed that are focused on trust and empowerment.
Commitment 2: Increase the number of ministry leader check-ins
The ability to move quickly depends on a well-functioning team. Well-functioning teams depend on good communication so everyone remains informed and cross-team cooperation is enhanced. Weekly team check-ins are essential and e-information must flow to key players on a daily basis.
Commitment 3: Find discerning people to vet ideas
Wise counselors are essential for good decision-making. Even decisions that are made quickly should be well-vetted. This is particularly true of decisions that have broad ministry impact. The wisdom of a few elders, the staff, a trusted friend, a spouse, and some key community leaders should not be overlooked.
Commitment 4: Increase wisdom by abiding in Christ
James says that if we lack wisdom we should, “Ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5). As renewal leaders increase their time in prayer, they will receive spiritual guidance for making better decisions. They gain wisdom for what needs to be done and how it should be done.
Commitment 5: Move quickly to the solution side of a problem
Some renewal leaders suffer from analysis paralysis. They and their congregations stay stuck on the problem side of a solution. They forever name the trouble they are in and the resources they lack. Nimble renewal leaders insist on quickly assessing the challenge and shifting to solution-side resolutions.
Commitment 6: Treat everything as an experiment
Churches don’t like to make quick decisions that have permanent outcomes. They will, however, allow quick decisions if the impact is short-term to meet an immediate need. In nimble ministries every decision is treated as a short-term experiment in pursuit of discoveries for better long-term solutions.
Commitment 7: Keep information flowing
Being nimble isn’t about being secretive. In fact, being nimble demands increasing intentional communication. Information must flow to the congregation regularly. This will demand creating new communication systems and the expectation for more regular information sharing.