Pastors are asked a lot of questions. Here are some of the common ones:
- Will you pray for my husband, kids, or job situation?
- When are you going to preach on _________________?
- How come this church isn’t more like my last church?
- When are we going to start a _________ ministry?
- Do you know what the book of Revelations means?
Pastors really do spend a lot of time answering questions. But what questions should pastors ASK? Here are five questions senior pastors, campus pastors, and point leaders should continually ask.
#1 – What’s working now?
When you step back and take an overall look and your church and all the ministry it does, it’s easy to get lost in all the details. There are church services, regular programs and ministries, and community events. There’s outreach, prayer, discipleship, missions, worship and preaching. And even a simple church can have a lot going on during certain times of the year.
But despite all of your programs and ministries and events, there are probably a few that work really well.
It’s a ministry application of the 80/20 principle – 80% of your success comes from 80% of your efforts. Certain things in your church will work better than other things.
So it’s important to know what things are working and what things are pushing your church toward accomplishing its mission. There are two big reasons this is important.
- If the majority of life change happens in a particular environment or ministry, it would be good stewardship to invest more resources there.
- It’s important to identify WHY high impact ministries are generating results so you can improve other key ministries.
If you’re the point leader in your church, make sure you stop to ask yourself what’s working right now and why.
#2 – What’s not working now?
The second question you should continually ask is “What’s NOT working now?”
Just like there are things in your church that generate most of your ministry, there are lots of other things that take time, resources and people but don’t help you accomplish your ministry.
Maybe these are outdated programs, leftover from a different time. Maybe these are ineffective ministries that have effectively been replaced by a new program but not removed from the lineup. Maybe there are ministries you feel like you’re supposed to have, but deep down, you know they don’t help you accomplish any of your ministry goals.
If you’re honest, there’s a lot in your church that doesn’t really help you reach people or make disciples. It’s activity without purpose. It’s motion without direction.
This happens in every church, every non-profit and every business. Here’s a chart of our Church Fuel revenue by product.
As you can see, most of our revenue comes from just six products. The resources in the blue and grey take just as much focus, just as many people and just as much energy, but they lead to far less of an impact.
Good stewardship means we have to take an honest look at what’s not working and redirect those resources. This is hard, because those resources are good.
But it’s not a question of good vs. bad. It’s a question of effective vs. ineffective. It’s a stewardship of influence question.
When you look at your programs and ministries, the key word is effectiveness. It’s not whether you like them, or whether or not they used to work.
This is why we teach pastors, the key to growth might not be something you start but something you stop.
When you stop doing the things that don’t work and invest those resources into things that help you accomplish your stated mission, growth is often the results.
So ask yourself, “What’s not working” and then be brave and wise about taking action.
#3 – Who are our potential leaders?
The first year of our church plant was a fun time. We were growing quickly and experiencing all kinds of blessings.
But while we were seeing a lot of people attend, we struggled to get leaders involved. We could attract a crowd, but now it was time to lead people at a deeper level.
We had a whiteboard meeting one night to ask the question, “Who are our leaders?” The goal was to identify these people so we could make sure they were involved in the right place. People began throwing out names and we wrote them down.
After we wrote down about 15-20 people, it dawned on me. We weren’t identifying leaders; we were identifying hard workers.
Our list consisted of people who showed up early to set up, who did things during the week, and who could be counted on to do whatever we needed. These were great people. They were hard workers.
But leaders have followers.
Few of the people on our list were investing in people or building teams. They were doing ministry, not leading ministry.
There’s a huge difference between a leader and a volunteer. You need both.
But for your church to truly grow healthy, you need to identify and develop leaders. That’s the harder part.
#4 – Whose job is it?
If there’s a ministry, program or task that doesn’t have an owner, it’s not going to be done.
And if something has two owners, it’s not going to be done.
- Whose job is it to make sure guests get connected?
- Whose job is it to increase regular giving?
- Who is in charge of community events?
- Who runs the website?
- Whose job is it to manage the calendar and communication?
It can’t be “we” and it can’t be “somebody.”
You’ve heard those names mentioned a lot. “We need to send a really good letter to all of our donors.”
Who is “We?”
“Somebody should make sure that pile of stuff by the office door gets to the storage unit.”
Who is “Somebody?”
“We” and “Somebody” don’t work at the church. They don’t have an office. They aren’t on the payroll.
Everything that happens in your church needs a point person. Every ministry needs a leader. Not a volunteer, but a leader.
Senior pastors have a lot of responsibilities.
But among other things, you are the Chief Clarity Officer for your organization.
This is huge because nobody else is going to do this and everyone is going to drift. It’s up to you to continually bring people back to clarity.
You’ve got to say, “Here’s what you do…here’s where you add the most value…here’s the outcome we need.”
#5 – What’s next?
The last question Senior Pastors and point leaders need to ask is a fun one. It’s a question about the future. It’s a question about where the church is going.
You should keep asking yourself what’s next.
I’m not a farmer but I do admire the process and systematic approach to growing things. If a farmer wants to grow a crop of corn, there are at least five phases.
- Prepare the field. He can’t just throw corn on the ground…there’s a ton of work that goes into getting the ground ready.
- Plant the corn. It’s ridiculous to expect a harvest without planting the seed.
- Give it time to grow. You can’t plant on Tuesday and harvest on Wednesday…you’ve got to give nature time to work.
- Harvest the crops. This is the fun part, but it’s also a lot of work.
- Rest. When it’s done, there’s a season of rest (for the farmer and the ground) and then it starts again.
But here’s the thing about farmers. They know how to work the current season while preparing for the next one. They are capable of doing today’s work with tomorrow in mind.
Great leaders do this too.
Pastors need to work hard on what’s in front of them while constantly praying and preparing for what’s next.
In a way, your heart and mind needs to be in two places.
Great pastors shepherd the people in front of them but keep their eyes on the mission field. Great leaders are good stewards with what God has given them to manage, but they are always looking ahead to prepare for what might come next.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not?
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