I think there are three questions church leaders need to ask NOW – and regularly.
If I were to come alongside of your church, (and I’m certainly happy to do that through my coaching ministry), I would help your staff or leadership think through each of these in a brainstorming session. But this is certainly something you do on your own.
Make one person the facilitator – one who will keep conversation flowing – make sure everything is allowed to be said that needs to be said.
3 questions church leaders need to ask regularly:
What is working well and needs more energies/resources given?
There may be things you added the last few years that worked better than you thought and now they are here to stay and may even need more attention.
For example, I know churches that quickly say “let’s church make that a Zoom call”. It’s not that they don’t do in-person meetings, but if you can’t get the finance team together in one room one month, you have another option. When someone is sick they can still be connected. That’s a keeper.
Prior to the pandemic, we didn’t have a YouTube channel. Now it will never be the same. It’s a huge part of how we communicate with our church. We need to put even more energy and resources into this part of our ministry.
I worked with four churches on a contract or full-time basis through Covid. In all of them the way change was introduced is worth keeping. Churches were forced to make changes quickly. What are some changes you need to make, but didn’t feel the freedom to do prior to this time? You may be able to “keep” some of the atmosphere of change you have created. Maybe it’s time to finally update the bylaws or reduce the number of committees you have.
There could be many other things that are working well and you need to take advantage of that energy. It could be children’s ministries, missions, parking lot ministry or your hospital care plan. If the general consensus of the room is that is where some energy is happening – put extra fuel behind it. Leverage what’s working for Kingdom growth.
There could come a day in a future session like this where that thing that’s working lands in one of the other categories. Be willing to move it when needed.
What needs tweaking?
This gets harder, because you have to name programs and ministries that may have been long loved by the church. But they’ve simply grown tired, changed leadership, or don’t get the focus they once did.
They aren’t broke, but they need tweaking.
This could be a long list of things. If children’s or student ministries aren’t growing like they once did – you likely aren’t ready to close them down, but leaving them the same isn’t likely to help them grow either. This is the same with missions or worship or Bible study ministries.
What still works, we still won’t/need it around, but it needs a fresh touch to make it better?
One example of most of our churches – we now have some form of online ministry. If yours is like mine it hasn’t stopped. In fact, it has become a huge front door for the church. That’s great, but is it enough? Should we consider how we better “shepherd” that opportunity? You may need to change who some of the volunteers you have are or where people serve. Some of your greeters may become “online hosts” for example. Don’t do away with it – just tweak it to make it better.
What needs killing?
This will be the hardest one. We tend to love holding on to programs and ways of doing things.
But if you are going to put more energy and attention into new things, then energy will have to come from somewhere else. What are outdated programs that simply don’t work anymore? Are there things you’ve done in the past just because you’ve always done them?
I’ve worked with multiple churches, for example, that had non-functioning committees still in their governing documents. They go through a process every year to find people willing to serve, but the committees never meet. That’s wasted energy.
In my experience, doing this exercise dozens of times, the longest list will be the second one – what needs tweaking. The shortest will be the third – what needs killing. That might be accurate, but I suspect many times its more a matter of churches struggling to do hard things. Even still, if you can simply get rid of one time-waster and put that energy on something in the first category – you’ll likely see some Kingdom momentum.