What does your ministry - church, mission, para-church or other - say yes to and what do they say no to? Ideas, opportunities and options are easy to come by. What is more difficult is knowing if one should spend energy, time and resources on a particular idea, proposal or opportunity. And if your gut says "no" how do you communicate that to those who made the suggestion?
No ministry can do everything. The most effective ministries have a clear focus on what God has called them to do and are wise in the decisions they make regarding ministry opportunities.
- Not all ministry opportunities are equally important.
- Some opportunities will dilute your current effectiveness.
- Everything you do takes time, resources and energy.
- Maximizing your influence means that you have a grid by which to say yes and no.
I have served in both church and mission settings. In both, there are more requests, opportunities and ideas than one can accommodate and stay focused and effective. It is not a question of whether someone is called to fulfill a certain ministry. The question is whether you are called to fulfill it and if this is the right time to do so.
There are a number of questions one should ask about potential ministry opportunities that can help determine whether one should move forward.
One: Does it fit our mission? Your mission is your true north so if a good idea does not fit your mission it will become a distraction. A good idea that does not contribute to your mission is a bad idea - for you.
Two: Is it truly strategic? Not all opportunities are equal. Some will give you significant ministry leverage and others will not. Maximizing our ministry opportunities is simply wise stewardship.
Three: Do you have the resources, time and energy to meet the opportunity without diluting other important things you are doing? You have limited resources so you need to understand the impact of saying yest to other ministries you are engaged in.
Four: Is there qualified, passionate and available leadership to make it happen well? Many ministries fail at this point. There may be a need but without the passionate leadership of a qualified individual it cannot flourish.
Five: Is there a plan or just an idea? Without a well thought out plan your opportunity is likely to fail. Ideas are not plans. Plans are necessary to flesh out a ministry opportunity and in that exercise you learn a lot about its viability.
Six: Do you have an evaluation process to determine whether what you started should be continued. The lack of evaluation is a key reason that ministries build up a stack of general ministries which yield general results.
It is a good thing to say NO if these six questions cannot be answered adequately. Saying yes to a few strategic options is far more effective to saying yes to all options. And that means that we also need to say no.