Renewing an Existing Ministry - Down to Earth Tips

Ministry renewal stuff often focus on the transformative stuff — prayer and vision and modeling and qualitative change. These things are absolutely true. And all these things will help when seeking to breathe fresh life into a plateaued ministry or repot a dying church.

In this post, though, I’d like to add some more hard, down-to-earth tips that I observe often happen in these kinds of renwals. They are the fruit of prayer and vision and all that. But I suspect that sometimes the order can be reversed and these things can stimulate things and so stir up that more ‘soft’ stuff.

1. Work Harder

Seasons of renewal bring a resolve to work harder, even among those who are already working hard. Stagnation is often marked by a freezing of possibility. And so our imagination shrinks. It doesn’t mean that these ministries aren’t busy and people aren’t working hard - they are often slowly grinding into dust!

And yet, those who bring renewal often come in and double or triple efforts. They stretch themselves and those around them. And they also speed up or simplify complicated and demanding things that were previously absorbing everyone’s time and energy.

2. Set a High Bar When You’re Struggling to Get Anyone

The viscious cycle of desperation means that we struggle to find anyone to fill our gaps in ministry, and so we lower the bar of spiritual maturity and practical skill. But if we’re not careful this just makes things worse.

Of course our expectations need to match reality. And yet often effective renewal brings a fresh resolve to stand by values and ideals - such as spiritual maturity and ministry quality. Better to work with a smaller team, do less and do it right, than limp along in compromise.

3. Replace Managers with Leaders

Ministries can run very well with a lot of managers who keep their various responsiblities ticking. In fact the elders and ministers can be functionally nothing more than managers overseeing the meager growth, comfortable plateau or slow decline of their church.

Leaders who bring renewal bring a new role description to ministry leaders. Rather than simply managing activities, running meetings, sending communciations and delivering reports - elders, staff and ministry team leaders are expected to actually lead. This means setting vision, evaluating progress against vision, coaching team members, delegating and recruiting new leaders.

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