College, Copying, and Creating; what do these three things have in common for us as ministry leaders? I’ve been pondering the process of my own development as a ministry leader over the last 30+ years. I was taught in college how to do ministry and I went out to my first pastorate as a youth pastor and then as a senior pastor to apply what I had learned in college.
At some point in my journey the things I had learned some years earlier in college and graduate school were not working as well or didn’t seem to work at all. My methods weren’t changing but the times were. I then got the bright idea to attend conferences to learn new ways to do ministry and I would apply these when I got back home.
What I learned at these conferences was sometimes rejected by my congregation. Other times they were accepted but didn’t work as well for us as it did for the church I borrowed the idea from and some times they worked well for us for a season of time before they began to fail.
Of course at some point in my journey I had to ask myself how we could consistently and successfully reach people with the gospel, bring them into our church family, disciple them and then help them repeat the process all the while staying within the parameters of Scripture. Is there one answer to this question for everyone? What was missing? Why did some ministries thrive and others just survive?
I don’t believe I am by myself in asking this question. If the statistics are correct that 80-85% of the churches in North America are either plateaued or in decline then I would imagine the vast majority of us are asking the questions I have listed in the paragraph above. I believe part of the answer is in the third “C”. Creating. If what we learned in college isn’t working and copying what others are doing isn’t consistently working for us either then perhaps it is time we got creative.
How well do you understand three things; your congregation, your community and your connectivity quotient between the two? It is much harder to create a workable way to reach your community than it is to borrow someone else’s creativity and try to apply it to your situation. I’m not telling you not to borrow “brains” to help you reach your neighbors but I am telling you to be careful when you do so. What connected their congregation to their community may not work for you.
If I were you the first thing I would do is to ask the person that originated “creativity” for help. Go to the source. The second thing I would do is put my prayers into action and begin studying how to create ministries that will work in my context. The third thing I would do is consider the services of a ministry coach who can help you in your efforts.