Sometimes church leaders feel like they’re stuck in a rut. Laboring tirelessly week after week, month after month, they see the faithful continue to attend church services and other programming, yet the ministry seems stagnant. There is no growth. Sure, it’s not all about numbers, but the goal is to impact more lives for the Kingdom of God. To do that, our ministry needs to grow in both effectiveness and size. How can we make this happen?
Here are five tips on growing your ministry through personal engagement — no numbers game or analytical formula required. As a result, your investment in their lives and in building meaningful relationships becomes the catalyst for growth of the ministry.
Here’s how to do it:
Get personally involved in the lives of others. The first step in growing any ministry in any church or organization is to remember that ministry is about people. God has gifted church leaders for ministry so they can pour into the lives of people and point them to a relationship with Jesus. Many times when trying to build a ministry, it is easy to get so caught up in programming, analytics, growth figures, and things that can draw us away from being involved in the lives of individual people. Church leaders, however, cannot let this happen. People must come first — ministry growth is the result not the cause.
Invest in personal development. Church leaders interested in growing their ministry must not only invest in the lives of others, but also set aside the time needed for personal growth and increase their own capacity for ministry. As ministries grow, leaders will need to adapt to the changing demands. This may require learning and developing new skills. Thus, leaders must spend time investing in their own personal development through classes, mentoring, reading/studying, and consultations.
Learn about empathy and meet people where they are. One of the best investments church leaders can make is developing empathy for people, specifically within their ministry. Meeting people where they are (emotionally and spiritually) and understanding what they are experiencing helps church leaders counsel well. Building relationships is another key for church leaders who seek to grow their ministries. People are drawn to leaders of ministries who value relationships. Those ministries will grow organically. People will invite their friends and will want to invest their own lives to help make those ministries stronger. The result? A growing ministry that will be filled with healthy, excited people willing to serve.
Hone listening skills. If church leaders want to grow a ministry, they must learn to listen. Not just to their people, but they must listen to everyone around them. They must listen to their counselors, those who are pouring wisdom into them and guiding them into greater heights of ministry. They must listen to their boards or other forms of leadership on points of accountability. They must listen to trusted sources of constructive criticism. Nothing can be dismissed when it comes from trusted sources. Be ready to consider everything. But possibly more important than any human source, tune your ear to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Hearing the Holy Spirit will help church leaders follow a God-directed path that will grow ministries quickly and divinely in a way that points people to Jesus and that changes communities for eternity.
Surround yourself with colleagues better than yourself. Finally, church leaders must realize that no one can do ministry alone. Everyone needs a team surrounding them. And that team? It must be filled with people who have a wide variety of skills and abilities. No single person can do it all. The many parts will make the whole better. In fact, the many parts will make all the church leaders better. When surrounding themselves with colleagues “better” or more talented, more qualified, stronger than themselves, it shows not only a tremendous amount of humility, but it also gives the whole team a greater chance of success and growth for the entire ministry. Ministry leaders should not feel threatened by strong team members. They should feel strengthened by them. The ministry will grow as a result and individuals will ultimately benefit as well.
Ministries need time, patience, and intentional cultivation in order to grow. It is the responsibility of church leaders to do what it takes to put people first and then invest in the key areas that will propel ministries forward with the greatest effectiveness.