Building a Ministry Scope

Every organization comes with its own set of challenges. This is true in both the church and corporate world. While the challenges may differ, there are some common denominators that land on both sides, and one of those is management. Managing is asking the question, "How are we doing?" And if you ever stop asking, you'll soon learn how important that question is. 

For pastors, management can be challenging because ministry has many moving parts. Hospitality, teaching, youth ministry, kid's ministry, budgets and small groups are just a few. While each part is important to the mission, it's impossible for a pastor to keep a finger in everything; and when pastors attempt to, they move into micromanagement and quickly find themselves (and their teams) frazzled. 

the big idea

A few years ago, I had an idea about a tool to help with management. Believe it or not, the idea came from deer hunting. I typically use a rifle with a scope while hunting deer. When I look through the scope, I see crosshairs (or a quadrant). The goal is to place the target at the center of the crosshairs. If the scope is tuned well and my target is in any part of the quadrant, I'm likely to hit my target. If my scope isn't zeroed, I'm likely to miss, even if my target is dead center in the crosshairs. Any scope that gets used will need consistent tuning. Now, let's bring this into church leadership.

First we need to answer the question, "What is the target on Sunday?" Obviously the answer is going to vary, but at the end of the day, we can probably land on "gospel impact" as our target.

what are the mission criticals?

If gospel impact is the target, then we can ask, "Which things are most critical to the mission?" There are probably many things that are important, but we need the top four "mission criticals" (criticals isn't a word, but it fits here). Different churches will land on different things. Here are some of the things that usually make it to the top four.  

  • Weekend Experience
  • Hospitality
  • Discipleship (Pathway)
  • Communication
  • Outreach
  • Marketing
  • Kid's Ministry
  • Worship

tuning the scope

Once you have determined the four mission criticals, then we must learn how to keep our scope tuned. Remember, if the scope isn't consistently zeroed, we soon begin missing our target even though we're aiming at it every weekend. In order to tune a ministry scope, we simply need to get our teams around it and ask the right questions. I recommend gathering your team, asking four questions for each quadrant (a.k.a. known as four helpful lists): 

1. What's Right?
2. What's Wrong
3. What's Missing
4. What's Confusing?

When tuning the scope, you may ask your team, "What is right about our weekend experience?" If the response is "everything!" then ask, "How can we make it better?" Next, you may ask, "What is wrong with the weekend experience?" You may get a plethora of answers; identify the top three or four and begin asking (not telling) how can we (not me) fix the issues? Which steps need to be taken? 

Once you learn the process, you can departmentalize the scope throughout the organization. For example, a children's pastor can gather his or her team, draw a scope and put the words fun, safe, organized and gospel-centered in each quadrant. Afterwards, they would ask the four questions to tune the four things they believe are critical to the mission of children's ministry. 

Consistent tuning of your ministry scope will ensure a consistent hitting of the target each weekend and as a result, your teams will lead well and reap the harvest. 


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