Saturday, August 22, 2009

Finding Our Niche

Effective ministers do not seek to change the world, they seek to change their part of it. This is often the difference between ministry and effective ministry.

Too often our hearts are bigger than our gifting, ability, energy and spheres of influence. This generally leads to resources spread way too thin, long days without much payoff, and ultimately burnout.

Effective miinisters understand who God has made them and what He has called them to do; and they pursue it with a singular mindset.

One of the most difficult challenges in ministry is to give ourselves to the tasks God has called us to and only those tasks.

Here are five tips on finding our mission and the corner of the universe God has called us to affect.

1. Join a Church. The church is the body of Christ. It is His arm for doing the work He is at. Don't just believe in the Church, give yourself to one. Don't just go to a church, belong to it. This is God's ordained structure for carrying out His work. He created the Church to be a body and parts are not nearly as effective outside of the system they were created to support as in them.

2. Identify the Need. More than anything else "need" directs our path. There may be things we're good at, there may be things we like, but "need" is the primary directive of God's work. What does your church need from you? What does the world need from you? What can you offer them? Remember that many of God's greatest servants were called to missions outside of their gifting and to missions they had no heart for. God grows servants, leaders are just a byproduct.

3. Identify Your Gifting. What are you good at? What can you do that others cannot? How has God uniquely gifted you to meet the needs of the world and the Church? Gifting allows us to meet "needs" more effectively than someone else might.

4. Identify Your Passion. What do you have a heart for? What is happening in the world and at church that really gets under your skin? Often passion, correctly applied, gives us a glimpse of God's own heart. Our passions identify the aspects of service we are most likely to naturally work hard at affecting. They also often identify those aspects of ministry we are most likely to enjoy.

5. Identify Your Market. Who are you most likely to appeal to, care for, connect with? Our "market" is that group of people that we most naturally identify with and will be accepted by.

When we walk down the list from top to bottom and apply each aspect, we are likely to find ourselves in the sweet spot of ministry; that place where we are, both, most fulfilled by, and most effective at.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Called Leading

One of the tough things to comprehend in any new ministry is the fact that we are the "leaders" of that ministry. It's much easier to wait for someone else to make a decision, point the way, move the pile.

In any ministry it's important to embrace leadership.

Leaders lead, they do not follow from the front. Often we are tempted to say, "Well, when God starts doing something here thats when I'll start moving". The reality is that he has; he chose you to lead!

What we must understand is that even God's choosing of us (we call it a "calling") represents lots of movement on God's part. He has chosen you, gifted you with unique talents and abilities, gifted you with resources, molded your desires and passions, tested you, and found you ready. Lead!

What this means practically is that we are often the drive behind our "movement", that particular mission God has called us to partner with Him in. We should not be discouraged when no one else seems to be on our page...because we are there to write it!

The following are four tips to being a "leader"

1. Target the mission. What is God asking of you? What movement of His is He asking you to partner with Him in?

2. Define the vision. How will you accomplish this mission? What has God uniquely qualified you to do? (Your passion and skill set are critical here. They may be a huge part of why YOU are called to this!)

[to understand the difference between mission and vision, mission is the goal, vision is how you, with your skills, in this time, amidst this culture, will accomplish that goal. Mission is the skeleton, it doesn't change, while vision may be likened to the skin, what the skeleton (mission) looks like]

3. Begin the March. There's an old saying that says you can't steer a car that isn't moving. Start moving. Lead. As you do God will bring "followers", correct your course, add to your resources and clarify your vision. But we mustn't wait around for it to happen. We are the God chosen catalysts of this particular movement and God is counting on us.

4. Nurture the seed. What God calls us to and plants as a vision in us is just the seed. We are responsible for nurturing that seed to a healthy fruit bearing tree. This means selling the vision, instilling the philosophy of ministry, and reproducing this "vision" in others. This is "leader"-ship.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Small Step...

Write this down: the greatest guarantee of effective ministry is always the "next step".

What does this mean? It means often we spend much time in ministry thinking about what we can do, planning what we should do, reviewing what we missed, talking about how it could have been better and even being told exactly what to, but much less time doing it.

If we really want our ministries to be effective we must be far more action oriented than we are. We must become "doers" instead of "talkers".

Here are four basic steps to help you engage in action oriented ministry:

1. Review everything. In order to decide on a "next step" you have to know where you've actually been. This happens when we diligently and critically review what we've done. There are 4 basic questions to ask in reviewing something: what was the goal, was it achieved, were we happy with the result, and can we do better?

2. Seek counsel. Often the next step eludes us because we simply can't see it. We are blind to it from our particular vantage point or perpsective. See what other people think. Listen to them. There are far too many Lone Rangers in vocational ministry. The Bible says wise people get a lot of counsel.

3. Develop a plan. Once you have assembled th data decide on a plan. How will you achieve what you think you should be doing? What will make your efforts easier, your ministry more effective, God more glorified, people more connectd to Him, etc. How do you get to your goal?

4. Identify the "next step". It's at this point that we often sputter out. Plans can be overwhelming, goals can seems daunting. Someone once said, "The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step" and the same is true of ministry. Be aware of the goal, but focus on the "next step." What's the VERY first thing that needs to happen next?

5. Take the next step. Now, to quote Nike, just do it. Take that next step. When the reviewing, talking, and planning are done, put action to your plan. Often the next step is miniscule and we wind up putting it off only to never return to it. The world is waitig for you to change it and it begins with the "next step".