Tag Archives: planning

A plan for getting there!

I recently had the opportunity to fly to a couple of different areas of the country.  On both instances, I noticed that, although, the airplane was the source of travel, there were a lot of things in place to make sure that both the passengers and the plane were able to make it to where it was supposed to go.  For the passengers, there is a solid system in place of what happens with luggage, what happens with passengers, what happens at security check-points and even what happens when boarding the plane.  For the airplane itself,  there are teams of people directing and guiding the plane to where it should be.  Additionally, the airplane is pointless without a runway for takeoff.  Someone had to think of how all of this would work in order to accomplish the overall purpose of actually riding an airplane from where you are to where you want to go.  A system is simply a plan or structure for doing something that will consistently get you from where you are to where you want to be.

In ministry, our main goal is helping people become who it is God has made them to be by reaching them where they are and helping them to get where God wants them to go.  That is our goal.  But how do we get there? Is there a process, a system, strategy, or a structure in place that will serve as the runway?  The truth is, many times we want the big goal, but fail to put a system in place to accomplish it.  I’ve noticed that having a system or structure is, in fact, a Biblical principle.  If you examine Scripture, you start to discover that God is a God of order and plans.  He has overall goals that He wants to accomplish, but He usually uses a system to accomplish it.  Explore the first chapter of Genesis, the book of Nehemiah, Jesus sending out the disciples, the plan laid out in The Great Commission, Acts 1:8, God’s redemptive plan of Salvation.  In all of these, you can see some sort of structure that was used to move toward the desired goal.

I’ve also noticed that not only is structure a Biblical principle, it is also necessary for us to be able to efficiently accomplish the overall goal.  Below are a few things that help us better understand how it is necessary:

A system is necessary to:

  • Focus our Efforts.  We need to work smarter, not harder.  In order to do this, we must have a plan to include others in the ministry.
  • Minister in our Context.  There are needs that exist around us that can’t be met if we don’t PLAN to meet them.
  • Work with a Team.  If we’re going to all work together in the same direction with the same goals, it must be structured.
  • Communicate Clearly.  We should be able to communicate our vision and our plans simply enough that even a fifth grader can understand them.
  • Stretch our Faith.  As we develop our ministries, we will dream bigger than before, reach further than before and trust God even more in the process.
  • Get us There.  We need to have a system or systems in place with an overall goal that we can see is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive.  The system doesn’t just help us get there, but it helps us know when we accomplish the objectives of our ministry as well.
The system created must always connect back with the overall vision of the church.  This will ensure that all of the ministries of the church exist to accomplish the overall vision of the church in the community and beyond.  It must also work in unison with all other ministries of the church.  We shouldn’t create anything that competes with or conflicts with the goal of another ministry of our church.  As we develop our system for a specific ministry, it will give us a framework for allotting our time as well as our resources.  Additionally, it allows us to know if we’re moving in the right direction towards our goals or away from them.
As you develop your structure and begin to move forward, it should provide vision for change and focus for the ministry.  It should also give your team, not just a plan, but also a sense of purpose and make it easier to bring others into the ministry.  As I have been developing ministries, I have discovered that failing to provide a clear plan and structure will continue to  cause confusion and frustration for all who are involved.  I would encourage you to start  developing some simple systems that will help you get to where God wants you to go.
The reason I started this blog, www.insideministry.me, is to provide system and structure ideas for various ministries and other random thoughts as I discover new truths in ministry.  If you have any questions or would like help in moving forward with systems, I would be glad to help.  I have just recently started coaching individuals through personal, professional, and ministry related decisions and would be glad to tell you more about it if you’re interested in coaching.  You can go here to find out more.
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The Joy of Record Keeping

I know if you’re not administratively gifted that keeping records are a thorn in your flesh.  I mean, who really needs to know what people gave on a certain week or exactly how many were in small groups last week?  Aren’t we really seeking to glorify God in what we do?  I would say the answer is we need to know where we have been to know where we are going and by doing that we can glorify God in the results.  It’s interesting to me that as I read scripture, I see that someone was administratively inclined.  There was someone who counted that 3000 were added to the church on the day of Pentecost.  Someone counted that Jesus fed the 5000.  When Jesus sent out the 72 to the towns and cities, how did they know it was 72?  Someone counted that Gideon started with 30,000 men and ended up with 300 men.  The fact is that throughout scripture God is tracking what is happening in the life of the early church.  We can learn from this example and keep records of what is happening in the life of our church as well.  I’ve discovered as I look at real numbers, it is often different from my perception of how things are going.  Sometimes the real numbers encourage me and sometimes they challenge me to reach new goals.  Either way, they are valuable in measuring the physical and spiritual growth of our church.

You can track, attendance of your weekly worship service, tithes and offerings, per capita giving, baptisms, first time guests, new members, small group attendance as well as projections for some of these areas.  By tracking many of these you will be able to see over a period of time how your church is doing at evangelism and outreach, discipleship, assimilation, and other areas.

Many of the church management software today allow you to track and print reports on many of the areas above.  If you don’t have that capability, I am including a digital form (in excel format) I have used over the past several years that can help you keep records of what is taking place on a weekly basis.  You can click here to download it: Church Data Sheet


Organizing Your Time

Organization would be at the top of most of our to do lists if we had time to make a to do list.  But the fact is that most of us go through life each day just trying to survive.  We live as though we are a passenger in our own lives.  We’re simply along for the ride.  We go through each day with no real direction other than the urgent demands of our days.  And then we often wonder why we aren’t moving forward in many areas of our lives.  What would your life look like if you began to live intentionally? What would change if you made an effort to become organized in how you approach your days and weeks?  What would be different for you if you began to try to organize things in every area of your life?  Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

In the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee of the United States Senate was assembled to discuss the topic of time management. Essentially, the best experts in the field were concerned that with advances in technology the biggest problem by the end of the century would be what people would do with all their free time. It was actually suggested that workers would have to cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, or else they would have to start retiring sooner. The truth is that the average workweek is now 47 hours – up from 43 hours two decades ago. A recent Gallup Poll found that 44% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.  As a pastor, I am no different.  I see the needs of people around me and because I haven’t set up boundaries in how I will use my time, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions at once and feel guilty when I can’t rise to the demands.  But this isn’t a biblical perspective of how we use our time.

Would you classify yourself as a workaholic?  It’s not something that we should brag about.  In fact, to be a workaholic is to be out of God’s will for your life. Part of his plan for your life is to have downtime as well as time with family and opportunities to build relationships.  The reason we find ourselves in these situations and often facing burnout is because we don’t discipline ourselves with how we use our time.  Organization is discipline in action.  Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”.  The questions we should ask ourselves is are we being careful? Are we being wise? Are we making the most of every opportunity?  How we organize our day will determine how well or how wisely we will live that day.

This is why I have four basic areas I work through when I am trying to make sense of my days, weeks and months.

  1. Itemize.  Be detailed in your plans.  This is where you randomly write down everything that you have going on.  What is it that is consuming your thoughts.  Write it down (i.e. pay bills, get groceries, pick up kids, write sermon, etc…).  We often fail to start with this very simple step of actually writing down what it is we have to accomplish throughout the day or week.  Then when we remember it, we go into panic mode because we are rushed for time to accomplish everything.  So I would encourage you to take some time to write it down.
  2. Categorize.  Assign relevance to the details.  Once you have your list of items written down, you will start to notice areas that go together on your list.  You may notice some main categories like Ministry/Work, Personal, Family, etc…  Then you may also notice some subcategories with these.  Under Personal, you may notice several Financial things that must be accomplished and can group them accordingly. (I would put it on my priority list as follows – Personal: Financial: Pay bills.)  As I began to pull all the personal things together, I would also group the financial areas.  You can do this in every area to start to gain clarity in what is really taking place. This also works great in ministry when you are working in multiple areas within the church to begin to gain clarity and focus of objectives.
  3. Prioritize.  Determine the order of importance.  Let’s face it.  We have a lot to do every day.  But the truth is there are some things that we do that could be done at a later time (or eliminated all together).  Place importance on the categories that match up with who God made you to be and what He wants you to accomplish.  There may be some things on your to do list that have nothing to do with where God is leading you in your family, ministry, work, etc… These are areas I usually start eliminating because they are simply noise in my life.  Once you have successfully itemized, categorized and prioritized what is going on in your life, there is one last area that can’t be missed.
  4. Strategize. Plan your day and work your plan.  It’s great to have an idea of what is going on and even to assign priority to it.  But what does this look like on a daily basis?  This is where the strategy comes in.  I think it’s important for us to realize that mentally and emotionally, we can only go in a few different directions in one day.  Because of this, we need to be strategic in what we allow ourselves to be focused on each day.  It may be that you group all of your Personal:Finance items into one day along with a few other personal categories and make that a part of that days strategy.  You may have different areas of focus in ministry.  I would encourage you to have certain days of the week designated for certain areas of focus.  (i.e. Monday Ministry: Communication: all emails, phone calls, newsletters etc…, Tuesday Ministry: Sermon Prep: Finalize sermon for Sunday, continue to develop sermons for following weeks, Wednesday Ministry: Staff: Work with staff concerning areas of need, etc…)  The key is when we get phone calls to pull us into a different area that we push those into the days where we are actually going to be working in that category.  (There may be emergencies that come up, but most of the urgent demands that come up can actually wait.) This will help reduce stress and also help us stay focused on what needs to be accomplished that day.

Now, I know you may be thinking that this will cost me more time and I can’t spend time doing this with everything else I have going on in my life.  I would say that you will actually gain time by making this process a priority.  This approach to my schedule has helped me stay focused even in some of the most chaotic times of my ministry.  I’ve heard it said, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”  And I believe this to be true.  When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I can usually look and realize that I have stopped being wise with my time and I am letting others control my time for me.  A good example of this process in practice is found in Genesis 1 when God created.  He took chaos and gave it order.  He didn’t create all at once, but allowed different things to be accomplished on different days.  He had details that he wanted accomplished, but worked through categories and priorities to accomplish His strategy.  I would encourage you to read through that chapter again and see how God organized that one week according to the above areas and see what changes you could make to model that in your life.

Update to blog:  As requested, I have put together a sample to do list of what a finished week might look like.  You will need to discover your own categories and priorities, but maybe this will help you as you are putting it together.  You can download it here: Sample To Do List

Note: I use evernote one my phone and have used docs to go to keep track of this electronically.  It’s easier to manipulate once it’s in the computer.


Care is essential to any growing ministry.

English: A specialist cardiology stethoscope.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s important that as a church we show up for people when they are hurting, mourning, sick and celebrating.  There is no better time to have an impact on someones life or family than being there for them during these times of change.  Often it’s not even a matter of what you do to provide care, it’s just the fact that you show up and are there during this time in their life.  People need to know that they’re not ‘doing life’ alone.  Showing up during a time of need conveys the message that “We’re here with you and we’ll go through this together.”

Below is a breakdown of some simple Care Ministry Guidelines that I have developed and found useful in helping people minister.  I’ve also found that instead of creating an entirely separate care ministry for this that it works well within an existing ministry that the whole of the church is involved in.  We do this through our small groups system and have found it to be very effective.

Group Care Ministry Overview:

The purpose of this ministry is to provide genuine heart-felt care to the people of Oasis during both times of celebration and trials of life.

  • We learn about a need in someone’s life either by conversation with someone in the church or through our communications cards on Sunday Morning.  Additionally, ministry team leaders may discover additional care needs by working with their teams.
  • Care needs will be met through groups.  The care plan provided will run through the duration of groups and through sign up of the next round of groups (up until they launch again).
  • Often times group leaders will either know or become aware of a care need from the group.  They may also find out about a care need from their Coach.  Once this need is known, the following can be a basic guideline for the needed response.
  • Church Staff may respond to care needs.  This will be determined at each instance, but would not take the place of the Group caring for the need.

Group Care Ministry Action Plan:

 

OCCURANCE OUR RESPONSE
1 Illness that is temporarily debilitating Notify Group of current need
  • Provide Food according to plan and needs
Send Card/Letter from Group or Group Leader
Phone call
2 Hospital Stay Notify Group of current need
  • Set up Visit by member(s) of group
  • Take Care Package
  • Identify Needs during visit
Church Staff Response
  • To Be Determined at each instance
3 Upon Return from Hospital Notify Group of current need
  • Provide Food according to plan and needs
  • Identify Needs during visit
Send Card/Letter from Group Leader
Phone Call
4 Death within household Notify Group of current need
  • Line up food to be provided
  • Send Card/Letter from Group or Group Leader
  • Phone Call
Church Staff Response
  • Pastor Visit & Counseling provided as needed
  • Attend Funeral
5 Death of Parent Send Card/Letter from Group or Group Leader
Phone Call
If possible have at least one member of group attend funeral.  Also one member of the church staff will likely attend the funeral.
6 Layoff/Job Loss Notify Group of current need
  • Provide at least one meal to household
Phone call from Group Leader
Send Card/Letter from Group or Group Leader
7 Financial Problems Alert Pastors to this need
8 Marital Problems Alert Pastors to this need

Food Provision Plan:

  • Food is provided to help alleviate a portion the pressure of daily needs during this time.  This is an opportunity to meet a basic need.
  • Typical length of food provision is one week or less.  (If it is seen to be necessary to provide for a longer period, discuss with your Group Coach before proceeding.)
  • For one time provision, you can have different members of the team provide different portions (i.e. sides, deserts, main dish, etc.)
  • For longer provision, break your team into nights and assign accordingly.  You may find it helpful to provide on an every other night basis. (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday)  This would allow your team to provide only 3 larger meals and leftovers could be used on other nights.
  • You may also consider paper product needs (i.e. paper plates, cups, etc.)

Hospital Care Package (Contains):

  • Can be a snack, inspirational book, crossword or puzzle book, etc…

If you are in the process of developing a care ministry, I’ve discovered that simpler is often best.  Don’t over complicate this process of care or you could plan the “care” right out of your system.  My prayer is that this post is useful as you develop your ministry.


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