Each year in the Spring, Baseball and Football, among other sports, hold spring training practices to maintain the team's focus on the fundamentals. From time to time in ministry, we need to do the same thing. Periodically we have to return to the blocking and tackling of ministry! Not overlooking the obvious, simple but foundational habits like personal worship and healthy rhythms between work and rest are a must. Good ministry habits are a must, as well! Here are three bad ministry habits we often pick up that can stall our church's growth.
Less Than Stellar Worship Services
Like it or not, I simply don’t know of a church that’s growing that does not have great worship services. The Sunday morning worship service is still the front door of the church for most people. We must work diligently and strategically to create excellent worship services. Music, Production, Transitions, The welcome time, the Offering, time, and of course, the sermon are all important to relaying our message, our vision, and our culture. By the way, this includes our worship services and/or preaching online. If the technology is bad or the quality is bad, it communicates loudly to the people we’re trying to reach. This is also true in our Children’s and Student Ministries.
You may not have millions of dollars to invest all this, but we are not responsible for what we don’t have. We ARE responsible for what we DO have! Fight to make your worship services awesome. Make the tough calls and have the courageous conversations you need to have to make the church’s most important hour of the week awesome!
Responding Rather Than Initiating
Everything can not be urgent. Christmas and Easter come every year so we should not be surprised by them. Sunday comes every seven days. There will be interruptions, but these should be the exception, not the rule. Plan your day or your day will plan you. Schedule your time or time will schedule you. Stop making yourself available all the time to everyone. Stop doing so much counseling. I have never met a pastor who said to me: “Our church really began to grow rapidly when I began to do more counseling.”
Open door policies are for leaders who don’t want to be disciplined in their own leadership. Plan times when you are available but also plan times when you are unavailable so you can work on you and the things that matter most to your personal and ministry growth. Focus on the IMPORTANT not just the URGENT. Time alone with God, message prep, our family, and our leaders all go on the calendar FIRST. Multiply yourself into leaders. Be a developer, not a do-er.
Neglecting Our Discipleship Systems
God will never bring us more people than we can effectively steward. We must build simple discipleship systems and then MONITOR them consistently to ensure design intent. How many people attended your Membership Class this past year? How many of them did NOT join? You should know that. How many people attended small groups last week? You should know that. How many children’s ministry volunteers do you have as opposed to one year ago? You should know that! How are leaders being trained and the held accountable in each ministry? You should know that! Get a simple dashboard in place that allows for you to know what’s going on, not just on Sundays, but between Sundays. We are to know the condition of our flocks. If we don’t then we can’t blame God because growth isn’t happening.
Stated positively, if we want our churches to grow (or continue to grow), we must:
- Fight For Excellence In Our Worship Services
- Initiate Rather Than Respond
- Monitor and Maintain Our Discipleship Systems
Church is not complicated. It’s just hard work. So...get to work!