We need balance in our ministries. We need to be focused on our mission while at the same time constantly searching for ways to improve our methods.
True Christianity is balanced ministry, a combination of trust in God and commitment to action.
– George Barna
YOU ARE IN 1 OF 3 SITUATIONS
- Balance (ideal situation)
Balance is when you ministry is focused on improving its methods while still being laser-focused on its mission. Balance is when you allow the mission to guide the development of the methods.
- Mission-biased Imbalance.
Mission without methods is mismanagement. It is inefficient and underperforms. If you are focused on your mission, but you are not making an effort to improve your methods, you are falling short of your full potential. It is poor stewardship.
- Methods-biased Imbalance.
Methods without mission is misguided. Methods get things done, but they don’t always get the right things done. You need mission to guide you.
Mission is your calling. It is your purpose.
All Christians are accountable to certain universal missions of Christianity.
- For example, the Great Commission tells us to preach the gospel to the world and make disciples.
- And in Matthew 22:37, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence,” and in verse 39 he adds, “Love others as well as you love yourself.”
At the same time, we each have our own unique mission.
- As 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 explains, we each have our own unique mission, our own unique role to play in the Body of Christ.
If you are lacking just a part of your overall mission, you will be imbalanced.
- In the 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reveals what happens when you are missing just a part of your mission. Without following Christianity’s universal mission of love, Paul describes his efforts as “meaningless noise” and “no good to anybody.”
- Focusing on only part of your mission is like following only part of the directions on the map. In the end, it does not really matter if you have missed your mark, if you never reach your intended destination.
Even worse than not following every part of your mission is not following any of your mission.
- One of the most unfortunate pitfalls of the church is when your ministry has become about the methods not the mission.
- If you truly put God first, your love for Him should motivate you to work towards better methods. But if you put methods first, you are not truly serving God. Methods have become your master. You may say you are serving God, but if you are putting methods first, you are serving methods. Actions speak louder than words. And ministry can become an idol.
- No matter how skilled you are, and no matter how smart you are, keep in mind…
1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
- The success of God’s plan does not depend on you. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” And Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
- Fortunately, we are blessed enough that God has given us each the opportunity to choose to be a part of His plan. God does not need you, but He desperately wants you.
Do your methods really matter? After all, isn’t it God that makes it all work? The answer is “yes” and “yes.”
Paul recognizes this in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he says, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” God gets all the credit. God does his BIG part, but first He expects each one of us to do our little part.
4 Responsibilities with Methods
- Do your part
1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”
- Maximize results.
2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” And Matthew 25:14-30 is another good reminder.
- Enhance your methods.
Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” So constantly be seeking wisdom. Gain godly wisdom through prayer and Bible study. And get practical wisdom by becoming a learner.
- Be intentional.
As Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 he tried “to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ” And Colossians 4:5 says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”
IT IS LIKE DRIVING
Your mission is like a roadmap. And your methods are how you reach your destination.
Understanding your mission requires understanding your unique calling. You must be able to understand who you are, which is like the starting point on a map. And you must be able to understand who you are called to reach.
You cannot know the best route on a map until you know the starting point and the destination. Once you know who you are and understand who you are called to reach, then you can determine what is the best route to reach the destination. Then you can understand what are the best methods to reach the destination.
Effective driving requires velocity (direction + speed). Mission determines direction. And methods determine speed.
Mission without methods is like focusing on driving to the destination, but it may take awhile to reach the destination (if ever).
Methods without mission is like focusing on driving fast and efficiently but without directions or guidance. There is no guarantee that you are heading in the right direction.
When your ministry is balance, it is like driving the most efficient route to the destination.
2 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS ON MISSION
- Clearly write out your mission and keep it simple.
In Habakkuk 2:2, God told Habakkuk to write the vision down and keep it so simple that someone could read it while running by.
- Review your mission at least once a month.
When Nehemiah was leading the 52-day long reconstruction of Jerusalem’s wall, he had to recast the vision to the workers midway through.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS ON METHODS
- If you want to improve your methods, study excellence and practice it.
- Learn from others and not just from personal experience.
- It is okay to make mistakes, but it is not okay to make the same mistake twice.
- Pray to God for wisdom and insight.
ACHIEVING BALANCE IN CHURCH COMMUNICATIONS
The most important thing in church communications is to let you mission guide your methods. To do this effectively requires knowing who you are (your strengths and weaknesses, what makes you unique, etc.). And it also requires that you continually study the constantly evolving cultures of the people you are called to reach.
If you focus on what others are doing, you run the risk of becoming imbalanced by pursuing methods that work for someone else’s mission.
If you focus too much on excellence, the pursuit of excellence may actually distract you from your mission.
Balance is about efficiency. What is the best way to accomplish the biggest results with the fewest resources? The answer is likely to be different for each church.
- For one church, investing in fancy printing with spot varnishes, embossed foil, and die cuts may be an effective strategy.
- But another church may find that they can change more lives by using the specialty printing funds in another way.
- And some churches may find that templates and relevant premade designs are better stewardship than using their limited resources to create custom-tailored, unique designs.
It is a judgment call that each church must make on its own. And it is the church communication staff’s responsibility to be well-educated enough in design, marketing, and their church’s mission to be able to make the right decision. As Proverbs 18:13 says, “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”
ACHIEVING BALANCE IN THE 21st CENTURY
Achieving balance is more difficult than any other time before. The age we live in is one where choosing to improve one’s methods is not optional. You must be current and you must be constantly improving to maximize your ministry’s success.
We are fortunate to have so much knowledge and so many resources for learning how to improve our methods. But with privilege comes responsibility – an incredible responsibility.
The Medici Effect states that ”breakthrough insights are at the intersection of ideas, concepts, and cultures.” Technology is creating cultural intersections.
Communication influences culture more than any other area of technology.
- It controls how fast culture is spread.
- It controls how much culture is spread
It is a self-feeding cycle that is continually gaining momentum. Culture leads to breakthrough insights which lead to technological advances that enable us to spread culture at an even faster rate. All along the way, information is being created as well as new cultures and subcultures.
At the same time, we must be able to learn without falling into the trap of relying on oneself rather than relying on God.
As we expand our knowledge and improve our methods, we must constantly be going back to the basics and focusing on God and the unique vision He has given each one of us.
www.churchrelevance.com. Used by permission of Kent Shaffer.