Church ministry is no easy task. If you’ve been in it for a while, you’ll know this firsthand. There can be many ups and downs, good times and bad, and even a few surprises along the way. While all of us wouldn’t change what we do, or trade it for anything, there can still be times we hit “roadblocks” during seasons of growth and throughout our time in ministry. What can be done to overcome these ministry roadblocks?
Overcoming The Growth Roadblocks In Your Church Ministry
Everyone Wants to Grow
When it comes to church ministry, we all want to grow. We want to be more useful for God and his purposes. We want to be more effective in discipling others and pushing them towards Jesus. We want to be more productive towards the expansion of the kingdom of heaven. Every man and woman serving in church ministry wants to grow, but not everyone regularly experiences growth. Why is that, exactly? Though the potential reasons might be as diverse as they are vast, one common reason does come to mind ahead of the rest…
Growth Requires Change. Change is Hard.
Man, oh man, church ministry is often so busy, and that’s an understatement. The average church staffer regularly finds themselves overbooked, overworked, and overwhelmed. Many of us regularly experience burn out, thanks to the reality that our church ministry responsibilities seem to never end. We rise early for breakfast meetings, work through the day, perform counseling on the nights and weekends, and then preach and lead worship or some other church ministry event on Sundays.
It’s so hard to thrive and grow in the midst of back-to-back seasons of burnout.
When we’re busy, we tend to just get by in life. To genuinely grow we need to change. It’s incredibly tough to change for the better, especially when we feel like we’re drowning in busyness. Positive change prefers free time to accomplish it’s mission and our ministries rarely provide free time. In light of this, should we really be surprised when we reflect on the outcome of a hectic past few months or years and see little growth and positive change?
Recalibrating Your Ministry for Growth
No matter what, positive growth doesn’t (regularly) happen by accident. For the most part, seasons of sustainable growth are brought on by thoughtfulness, discipline, intentionality, and hard work. So in the midst of busyness and weighty responsibility, what can we as Christian ministers do to foster growth in our lives? Here are a few practical and easy tips to hopefully be both a blessing and point us to further excel in our work.
1.) Spend Time in Reflection
How do we spend our time? I mean, how do we really spend our time? Journaling daily activities is definitely worth trying. It’s a practice will likely surprise us in revealing that we might be giving too much of most days to tasks that don’t really accomplish much for Christ, and far too little time to tasks that align most with our values and ministry goals.
Once we’ve figured out where our time is actually going, consider blocking off 30 minutes on the calendar to brainstorm what we love in ministry and what we view as most essential. Does our time journal match up with our passions and our most essential responsibilities? If not, perhaps it’s time to take a bit more control of the daily schedule. Write down what an ideal work week would look like. Space out activities thoughtfully to maximize the impact of ministry and function within strengths and loves as much as possible.
2.) Thoughtfully Delegate
We may hear ourselves saying, “But what about all of that other stuff that just needs to get done?” Yes, the “gotta-get-done” checklist on each of our desks often gets longer by the day and never seems to grow shorter. Like any job, church ministry often contains a bunch of little tasks that require a decent amount of time and seem absolutely unavoidable. At the risk of generalizing and labeling all of these tasks as unavoidable, though, let’s take the time to make a list of all of these “gotta-get-done” tasks and evaluate each one individually. Are there any that can be delegated in order to free up the schedule a bit more?
I imagine there are some, and the 15 minutes spent brainstorming through this subject matter will likely save hours upon hours of time in the coming weeks and months.
Before we move on, I think that something needs to be said about delegation. Many of us inwardly view delegation as mere “dumping” work from our plate to somebody else’s. Such activity is thoughtless and selfish and more accurately describes laziness than delegation. The kind of delegation that we should pursue in church ministry is thoughtful delegation. There are staff members and volunteers within your congregation that have different gifts. With this in mind, though passing off certain responsibilities to others might seem like “dumping”, to others these new opportunities might actually be much more of a blessing than a workload dump.
So take the list of tasks, whether short or long, and think who on staff and within the congregation might best be suited to jump in and help out a bit. In the process, there’s a good chance that we’ll both be blessed through such a transition, and, more importantly, your church will become more productive, efficient, and useful for Christ’s kingdom.
3.) Identify Where You Want to Grow
Now the schedule is a bit more simplified. Congratulations. That’s awesome! We can finally narrow our focus on the areas that where we really want to grow. First, consider areas where personal growth is needed. Are we proud, arrogant, unhealthily competitive, selfish, lazy, envious, or unfaithful to commitments? Try to hone in on 1 or 2 inward aspects of character that we really feel needs refocusing. Next, consider what areas of “professional” life to expand. Counseling, preaching, guitar playing, discipling, or managing people more effectively might make the list. Again, try to choose 1 or 2 areas of church ministry that we desire to see more faithfulness and fruit.
4.) Gameplan and Find Support
This is so exciting! We now have a more wide open schedule and a handful of specific personal goals that we’re poised to pursue. Like any aspect of life, we’re more likely to reach these objectives if we create specific checkpoints and seek out accountability to help us on the journey.
Ask: “What would realistic markers of progress and growth look like in the coming month, quarter, and year?” From this point, create specific goals with deliverables and rewards if goals are met. The goals don’t have to be huge and the incentives for reaching them don’t have to be big, either. In my experience, though, it’s just nice to find ways to celebrate progress and keep inward momentum going so we’re not derailed.
Another catalyst to help us reach our growth goals is to find support from a spouse, coworker, or friend. Personally, I can’t workout at the gym for more than 25 minutes without a team or a coach pushing me along. How much more do we need encouragers in our ministries to help us progress to be the most fruitful for Jesus as possible?
Growth for God’s Sake
I know, I know. It’s easy to view the aforementioned tips as “secular” and “non-Christian.” On the one hand, our ministries require faithfulness and obedience and nothing more. Success in church ministry can’t be measured by numbers on a spreadsheet and therefore advice that may seem somewhat “worldly” might not have a place in the church.
On the contrary, Jesus often commended people in his parables for being crafty (Matthew 25:14-30) and shrewd (Luke 16:1-15). I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Jesus wants us to approach our lives and ministries in a thoughtful, intentional, and masterful manner. The goal of the Christian minister pursuing change is always the glory of God, not the glory of man.
A Quick Challenge
Sometimes it’s appropriate to focus on personal growth. On other occasions it’s worthwhile to seek out something new that will change our ministries as a whole. We’ve all heard stories of churches that never change and seem allergic to it.
Perhaps your church ministry isn’t quite there, but if your church is approaching a decade, or even a 5 year marker of doing things the same way, maybe it’s time to try something new to better reach your community in 2017. The reality is that our world is changing rapidly. The way that people live, communicate, learn, and seek out entertainment is drastically different today that even just a handful of years ago. We live in a video culture and I talk to pastors all the time who will say something like, “Our church would really like to use live video to broadcast our services but we’re probably a year or two away.” A few years pass and I call on that same pastor only to hear that they’re probably still, “a year or two away,” from trying out a new video ministry.
I personally oversee Sharefaith Streaming and everything that this aspect of our offering entails. We’ve tried to make a custom solution that is super easy, affordable, and can ultimately bless a lot of folks around the world for Christ. If you feel in your heart that maybe it’s time to pursue growth in this aspect of your church, I’d love to be a personal resource for you. Here’s my quick challenge: click on this link here and let’s schedule a 15 minute or 30 minute call to chat. We can talk about whatever aspect of your ministry you’d like to grow in, whether it has to do with technology or not.
Overall, sometimes growth is uncomfortable and takes a bit of work. Our God is a God of new things, and whatever your goal might be, it is so worthwhile to seek out growth in your personal ministry and the overall ministry of your church.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Stay the Same
Wrapping things up, let me tell you what success does not look like when it comes to growth in church ministry. Are you ready? Here it is…
“Close this article and do nothing different.”
That’s it. Unless you’re already a perfect person, Jesus doesn’t want you to stay the same. He began a good work in you and he wants to complete it. He wants you to participate in the expansion of his kingdom and the salvation of souls. Whatever you do, don’t stay the same. Rest in God’s promises for your life and ministry. Be intentional to seek out growth for the sake of God’s name. Thanks so much for sharing this time with me and may God’s richest blessings be upon your ministry as you seek to ever increase your fruitfulness for Christ.