How Will You Ensure Your Ministry’s Long-Term Success?

dereko@saddleback.com
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How Will You Ensure Your Ministry’s Long-Term Success?

Postby dereko@saddleback.com » Fri May 04, 2018 12:06 pm


kenthall5@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:29 pm

Steve speaks some divine truth when he says that you’ve got to keep your focus or “keep your eye on the prize.” It reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2 when it says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” As Christians, as a church, and as a small group, we are traveling a path that Jesus made and has personally traveled. Sin is like stepping off of the path. I’ve traveled some paths through the woods where, if you stepped off of the path, you would take a bad fall. In everything we have to follow His path carefully.

Figure 9.1 “Guarding against drift” is a good illustration of this concept. It also makes me think about traveling that path in the dark. It cannot be done. You cannot see it. We know that the light shines through the darkness and our light is the Word of God. If we keep studying His Word, we will stay in the light and on the path.

This is what I believe he is referring to when he says we must be constantly evaluating. Compare what we are doing with Scripture. The five levels of renewal that Steve delineates are five areas that we can focus on in small groups to assure compliance with God’s course. My question in this case comes with the correction. How can we effectively move people back to the course when they are enjoying their new (off course) direction?

reidsmith777@gmail.com
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Re: How Will You Ensure Your Ministry’s Long-Term Success?

Postby reidsmith777@gmail.com » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:30 pm

Thanks for sharing, Kent! I too have found encouragement to stay on the path, walking the "narrow road," from Heb 12:1-2. It recently inspired me to write a blog on the gifts of accountability: https://blog.smallgroupnetwork.com/3-em ... ntability/
Your insight about the role of God's Word illuminating our path makes me think of Psalm 119:105. Check out The Message translation of it: "By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from your course. I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will."
Does your question about moving people back to the course when they are enjoying their new (off course) direction relate to a particular level of renewal that Steve describes on pp. 204-205?

kenthall5@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:56 pm

Reid,
Thanks for that verse from Psalm 119. It really sums up the vision I have about staying on the path. I especially like the prayer asking God to “put me together again with Your Word.” That’s powerful…and memorable. Once we’re off the path, only God can move us back on. Unfortunately, many people learn that the hard way and some never learn it at all.

I suppose moving back on the path could relate to any of the levels of renewal that Steve describes, but the one I seem to encounter the most is personal renewal. The sin that usually drags them off of the path is one of their own works. Many times, that same issue serves as the initial infection which spreads to all of the other levels. Like any disease, treating the symptoms doesn’t cure the problem. It typically comes back to that personal relationship with Jesus.

Your blog on accountability is inspiring to me. I’ve always known the value of accountability, but like you, it seems a bit uncomfortable at first. Perhaps my apprehension comes from past “friends” who I confided in and had my trust betrayed. Also, as a pastor, I am not comfortable opening up too much to those in my care for fear that I will lose their trust as a spiritual leader. Nevertheless, I have developed a few spiritual brothers that I can and do confide in. It gives me the vision of mountain climbers who are all connected to the same rope to give them confidence in the climb.

cas.sufficool@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student

Postby cas.sufficool@gmail.com » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:19 pm

Steve’s focus on not allowing the drift of church life and ministry deter the goal of your small group ministry was very impactful. As he said, even in a church so established and with such longevity has to fight against drifting from the goal. I have seen it become extremely difficult to stay on mission and goal with small group ministries in the smaller churches that are just starting up the ministry. Understanding the need to stay on course and not drift is something I will advise many small group ministries to stay intention about given the chance.

I know there are many para-church organizations that help church realigned their goals with their ministry’s direction, yet they often cost money. It cost to bring these para-church consultants in and have then assess the direction of your church. Often the smaller churches in my rural area cannot do this, yet they are in desperate need. So, I am wondering if anyone has any curriculum, links, or organizations that help smaller church realign and stay on mission with their goals?

One aspect that I think has helped some of the churches in my area is establishing leadership teams. These leadership teams are different than the elder boards as these leadership teams are often made up of the ministry leaders. Most of the ministry leaders are volunteer and so they are not around the church day in and day out. Thus, when they are leading their ministries, they often do not have the churches main mission and vision in mind.

By establishing these leaderships teams, the churches have been able to communicate to their small group ministry leader, the children’s director and other ministry leaders on what the continual mission of their ministries are. This has enabled the ministry leaders to choose curriculum and plan events with the churches mission and vision in mind. This is one way I have seen rural churches defend against the drift.

janetporter@sandyplains.org
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Postby janetporter@sandyplains.org » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:16 am

I love Steve's illustration for the long building process of ministry, "If you'd rather have a ministry like an oak tree - with deep roots, strength, and longevity - it will take more time." Planning for long-term success is a weakness of mine. I like to see things produce fruit quickly, but I am learning that ministry building is a process worth waiting for. It encourages me to read that even Saddleback has setbacks and drifts from the goals. If I can learn to expect them and know how to deal with them, the ministry has a chance of having long-term success.

Steve describes, on p.201, setbacks as God's plan unveiling and as a gift from God. I do not often look at setbacks in the ministry as God's plan revealed, but I like the perspective that this gives. When the original plan does not work, it is okay and a natural part of ministry "because we can't know everything when we first launch out". These words are a huge encouragement to me as we plan to begin a small groups ministry in a traditional church where most of the staff have only read about small groups.

Steve's three things to ensure long-term success for our small group ministry seem doable. We are already working more intentionally on keeping the end in mind as we plan for upcoming events and ministries. We need to define what success looks like for our small group ministry and decide how we will evaluate the ministry. Like Kent, I am curious how we get people back on track once they have drifted, especially if it is the entire ministry. I could see that this would be an area where previous relationship building would be crucial to impact the person/group to return to the correct course. How do you know, or at what point do you step in to recorrect? When they have drifted a little or do you wait to see if they correct themselves?

cas.sufficool@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student to: Janet

Postby cas.sufficool@gmail.com » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:37 pm

I agree with you Janet, Steve gave us some great insight into running the race and building a ministry for the long haul with that illustration. It is good that you recognize your weaknesses so that you can be prepared to work through them when the situation calls for it. We must lean from others setbacks and failures and so it is encouraging to hear the struggles that Saddleback has gone through as well. I would encourage you that even when the drift comes, keep pressing forward and you will see the fruit you long for!

Thank you for pointing out Steve’s words here because they are very encouraging to the ministries goal. At least for myself, I often think if I am walking in God’s will everything will be going smoothly, but that is not always the case. Sometimes when we are walking in God’s will He has to bring a refining fire to test and approve us, or to strengthen the ministry. The devil always wants to deter us from walking in God’s will, so trial will often come in ministry due to the devils scheming.

It is important to remember that trials to not mean trouble for the ministry, they can simply be trimming the areas where the ministry needs to grow and produce more fruit (Jn 15). It does sound like you have your work cut out for you in forming a small group in a more traditional church, but what an exciting endeavor that the Lord has you on.

That is a great and challenging questions. I think you are right, having relationships in place is key to help asses if the ministry needs correcting and if so, having the respect to step in and make some corrections. From my own experience I have found continually meeting with leadership gives and opportunity for transparency. Meeting with group and ministry leaders gives them time to give feedback and insight into how things on the ground are going, while also allowing the other leaders who are on the outside time to assess how the ministry is going.

janetporter@sandyplains.org
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Postby janetporter@sandyplains.org » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:58 am

Chad,
Thanks for your encouraging words! You asked about help in realigning goals in ministry for a church. In our area, we have a denominational association and they have trained coaches to help the churches with goal setting and church planning. We are utilizing this church "coach" to help us as staff learn how to set long-term goals for our church. These coaching sessions are not free, but they are significantly less than using a nation wide company. Do you have anything like that close by?

kenthall5@gmail.com
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Re: Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:57 pm

janetporter@sandyplains.org wrote:
> I love Steve's illustration for the long building process of ministry,
> "If you'd rather have a ministry like an oak tree - with deep roots,
> strength, and longevity - it will take more time." Planning for
> long-term success is a weakness of mine. I like to see things produce fruit
> quickly, but I am learning that ministry building is a process worth
> waiting for. It encourages me to read that even Saddleback has setbacks and
> drifts from the goals. If I can learn to expect them and know how to deal
> with them, the ministry has a chance of having long-term success.
>
> Steve describes, on p.201, setbacks as God's plan unveiling and as a gift
> from God. I do not often look at setbacks in the ministry as God's plan
> revealed, but I like the perspective that this gives. When the original
> plan does not work, it is okay and a natural part of ministry "because
> we can't know everything when we first launch out". These words are a
> huge encouragement to me as we plan to begin a small groups ministry in a
> traditional church where most of the staff have only read about small
> groups.
>
> Steve's three things to ensure long-term success for our small group
> ministry seem doable. We are already working more intentionally on keeping
> the end in mind as we plan for upcoming events and ministries. We need to
> define what success looks like for our small group ministry and decide how
> we will evaluate the ministry. Like Kent, I am curious how we get people
> back on track once they have drifted, especially if it is the entire
> ministry. I could see that this would be an area where previous
> relationship building would be crucial to impact the person/group to return
> to the correct course. How do you know, or at what point do you step in to
> recorrect? When they have drifted a little or do you wait to see if they
> correct themselves?
Janet,
Wow…I missed that line on page 201 about setbacks unveiling God’s plan. I went back and highlighted it. Now when my plans don’t work out, I will slow down and watch for the direction God had planned all along.

I also like the metaphor of building a ministry like growing an oak tree. Of course, I like good metaphors; they invoke my visual imagery and give me a better understanding of concepts. Becoming overanxious about results is a normal reaction in our society. It’s part of being in the “drive-through” generation. We want what we want and we want it now. And we had better get what we ordered!

In response to your question of correctional timing, I would say as soon as you see them drifting. Let’s try another metaphor. If your car starts to drift toward the edge of the road, do you make a correction immediately or do you wait until you’re heading down an embankment? Of course, the answer is (or should be) immediately. If all life were so easy!

cas.sufficool@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student to: Janet

Postby cas.sufficool@gmail.com » Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:45 pm

Janet,
Ah that sounds like a great denominational association. Having those “coaches” available does sound like a great resource to have around. I am not sure if we have anything like that, but it is a place for me to start looking, thank you!


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