By Todd Adkins
I’d like to talk to you about reallocating the resources of your church during this time. Here’s a quadrant to help you identify and categorize what needs to be realigned. This tool can be really helpful as you walk a team through navigating different phases of ministry and different phases of reopening as we move ahead. And it’s also a really helpful template to walk through with your team. I’ve heard it said that the Chinese word for crisis is made up of two different strokes — one is danger, the other is opportunity. This tool will also help you identify a few things that you strategically stop forever and never restart, even when you establish that new normal. If I sound excited about that, it’s because I am a former executive pastor. Let’s take a look at this.
Our y-axis is actually why the church exists. It’s the essential ministries of the church. Think purpose of the church — great commission, great commandment, discipleship, fellowship, worship. But a word of caution is needed here on the essential ministries of the church. We want to be careful because a by-product of the Purpose Driven movement, as an example, is that everyone now had a really great argument for why their ministry should exist. So, I could start any affinity-based ministry I wanted and staunchly defend it as evangelism or fellowship or, even, discipleship, and I had a really good argument. Now, we don’t need fourteen different ministries vying for resources to do one of those essentials at this time. What we really need at our church is to focus on one or two that do it best for this particular season. If your church is really large, then perhaps you can get away with a few more. But the more of these focuses we have, the more your resources are spread out, and the greater difficulty you will have communicating what is important with your staff and with your congregation.
Let’s take a look at the x-axis. It’s about a ministry’s effectiveness during this time. You should also, I would say, consider the past effectiveness of this ministry. Go back three months ago and think about what their effectiveness was during that time. Also, think about how strategic something is. This is the sloping line — to think about how strategic something is during this crisis.
If a ministry is not an essential ministry or effective then we need to stop doing it. No further questions asked. This is your shot to kill a sacred cow. As Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.” This is likely the greatest opportunity you will ever have to prune back ministries that are not really producing fruit at your church. Which brings me to our next quadrant.
If the ministry is still not essential, but it is effective, or at least has a reputation for being effective, we want to shift those resources away to something that is more strategic. We have a tool that goes along with this exercise that is going to help you process and plot in what phase you bring some of these ministries back, but again this is a unique opportunity for pruning those back for good. In almost every church there is something that once started out in perfect alignment with the purpose of the church. It was in perfect alignment with one of the essential ministries of the church. But over time it experienced mission drift, but still was seen as effective and was no longer in alignment. What we must do when we get back to the new normal, or before we get back to the new normal, is we must eliminate the trivial good.
If the ministry is essential, but not yet effective, we have to strategize around it. This is an essential ministry of the church after all, and we have got to get this right. We have to realign our people, our money, our communications, and other resources around this ministry until we get it stabilized so that we can then scale it. This leads us to our final quadrant.
If it’s essential, and it’s effective, and it’s strategic at this time, you continue to support and scale it. Just because we’ve been successful for a few weeks and we have other fires that are burning, don’t put it on the back burner. Dedicate the time and resources to elevate it in front of everyone so that there’s clarity on what’s important, what direction we are moving, and we can continue momentum accordingly at this time.
This assessment isn’t a one-time thing. What works well in this particular phase or this particular season will not work well in the next. I know we are all obsessed with processing the three phases of reopening and then getting to a new normal church rhythm, but we all need to realize it won’t be as neat and clean as the three phases on our spreadsheet. This is because things are continuing to change. And change is happening country by country, state by state, county by county, and even city by city, so we have to be able to continually assess our allocation of resources and adapt and respond. Continue to align our resources to best meet the needs of our church and people right now as new information comes to light.
Once you’ve used the resources we’ve given you, you’ve realigned yourself, now we want to get down to the individual ministry level to figure out what’s best next, and we will do that in the next session. But before we do, I want to give you one more visual. Think of an old world compass. You don’t just have a North, South, East, West. No, you have North-East, and a North-North-East. There are numerous directions here so sometimes it’s not even helpful because you can’t tell which direction you are going. It’s going to confuse everyone if we do this as a church and we spread our resources to then. I would encourage you to use this opportunity to simplify this dial and strategically align your resources around a limited number of directions at your church.
Check out our FREE course A Complete COVID-19 Guide: Lead Your Church Toward a New Normal on Ministry Grid for a a step-by-step process to help your church realign, restructure, and reopen. Click here for more info.