If your church is like my church, there is something that you really want to see happen—something that would be a game changer for your church. Maybe it is a thriving small groups ministry. Perhaps it is a building project or a new satellite or campus. Maybe it is a sermon series that you know your people need but you can’t seem to find the time to put together.
How do you get big things done? Like actually? With the whirlwind of everyday activities and with another Sunday coming, how do you complete projects and initiatives? How do you build for the future? These are important questions. We’re talking about the difference between progress and stagnation.
I have three strategies that might help.
1. Schedule It
A former boss and ministry mentor once asked me a question that has stuck with me. Here’s the question:
“Where is that on your calendar?”
I was telling him about a project I wanted to pursue and needed to pursue, but hadn’t yet been able to put energy toward. His one question clarified why. It wasn’t on my calendar.
This was an important lesson for me in leadership. If you don’t schedule it, it’s not going to happen. The open spaces will always be filled with what is urgent. There’s always a crisis to deal with in ministry and leadership. In my church we often call it the “tyranny of the urgent.”
If you want to pursue game changing projects and initiatives, you must schedule them and protect that time.
So, what is it that you want to see happen in your church or ministry? Schedule time in your week to think about it, work on it and build it.
2. Score It
Whatever matters needs a scoreboard. It’s like the difference between practice and a game. Those of you who played sports in high school and college know what I’m talking about. The scoreboard brings a different level of focus and performance. It matters. Something is on the line.
The same principle applies in leadership and ministry. If we say something matters, we need to put a scoreboard to it so that we can measure it and understand whether we are winning.
The concept of putting a scoreboard to what matters isn’t new. However, I think we often measure the wrong things. We use the wrong scoreboards. We measure what we don’t control—giving, attendance, or number of volunteers.
When it comes to giving, what if the scoreboard was the number of breakfast meetings you scheduled with donors? For attendance, what if the scoreboard was conversations in the atrium with new families? For volunteers, what if the scoreboard was meetings you set up with prospective volunteers?
Do you see the difference? We often attempt to score what we can’t control. Instead, score what is within your control and leads to the desired outcome. If you’d like to learn more about this concept, I highly recommend the book 4 Disciplines of Execution.
If you really want to get big things done, you need to schedule them and score them.
3. Surrender It
An important question for you to consider: Do you need the credit? Another critical question for you to answer: Does it have to look exactly like you want?
An important leadership lesson I’ve learned along the way is that surrendering important projects and initiatives to others is often a better way to achieve game changing results.
You see, I’m an ideas guy. In Lencioni’s Working Genius assessment, I’m an Inventor. What this means is that I am great at coming up with ideas and solutions but not always great at discerning whether they are good ideas, and definitely not always great at getting those ideas across the finish line. I can’t even begin to tell you how many projects have gone unfinished in my life.
Sometimes, you have to surrender projects and initiatives to other leaders who have proven themselves capable and trustworthy. Sometimes this means a full handoff. Other times this looks more like collaboration.
Later today I’m meeting with a pastor who wants to talk to me about a recent sermon I did on God’s design for sexuality. He wants to know the secret sauce.
Well, the secret sauce was multiple rounds of collaboration. I surrendered my sermon manuscript to editors five different times in the process. That was a lot of red ink! And, the sermon ended up looking quite a bit different than I originally imagined. But in the end, surrendering that sermon to the process of collaboration made the sermon much, much better.
If you actually want to accomplish big things in ministry in leadership, you have to be willing to collaborate. Invite other people into the process.
In addition to collaboration, sometimes you have to hand things off. If you are an ideas person like me, you’ll need to hand projects off to people who have the tenacity and know-how to get a project across the finish line.
Ask yourself, who is the right person to see this thing through? And then, empower them to carry the project forward. Surrender the project to them.
Here’s really good news: When you invite others into the process through collaboration and handoffs, not only are you going to see a better finished project, you’ll also develop leaders through the experience. Building trust and competence in the leaders around you is incredibly strategic.
So, how do you actually get big things done? I’m talking about those game changing projects and initiatives that could grow your church and help you reach the next level. In my experience, you’ve got to schedule it, score it, and surrender it.
Now, go get some important stuff done!