Most pastors and church leaders would agree they are simply too busy. Often we are stretched and stressed by all the spinning plates we must keep going. Part of the problem is that we don’t take the measure of our capacity; we say yes and yes and yes without considering the bandwidth we’ve committed. But if want to be healthy leaders then we must commit to setting limits.
It’s time to hold our breadth! They say we can do anything but the truth is we can’t do everything! We have to focus on fewer things, rather than adding more things–even if they’re good.
When we hold our breadth it keeps us from being over-committed and over-calendared. I think it comes down to answering three important questions for our churches and ministry: 1) What are we doing? (Our purpose); 2) How are we doing it? (Our plans); 3) Who is going to do it? (Our people).
1) What are we doing? (Our purpose)
Clarity in purpose is essential. Until the purpose is clear we will get stuck doing things because we’ve always done them. It’s like shooting a basketball without a hoop or playing football without an end zone. We may be playing hard but we never know if we’ve made a point! Without a goal, you can’t score. Sadly, there is a danger of trying to please others and their expectations rather than the purpose Christ has called us to. Here’s the point: The clearer the mission, the easier it is to know the “breadth” of what we should and shouldn’t be doing.
2) How are we doing it? (Our plans)
Jesus called us to make disciples, not to run programs! Here’s another principle of holding your breadth: All of your church’s resources should be geared toward living out its purpose. If it doesn’t fit, we simply shouldn’t do it. In the book, Simple Church, Tom Rainer warns against “program-driven” churches. He writes, that “program-driven churches give the appearance of growth, but programs aren’t a good measure of church health.” More activity does not mean more ministry. Now, there is nothing wrong with a program as long as it is accomplishing the purpose. Getting a proper breadth in ministry is not just about cutting programs. It’s about having a process of discipleship. We need to stop thinking about programs and start thinking about paths in our spiritual growth.
3) Who is going to do it? (Our people)
I believe every church has all it needs to be the church God wants it to be right now. However, that means that we see ourselves as the body of Christ with each person having gifts and a place to minister. I cringe when we call pastors “ministers.” Every member is a minister! Too often the ministry gap is filled by the pastor or a few lay people. They are overworked while others are frustrated because they’re underworked. Here’s another key principle of holding your breadth: “If there isn’t sufficient leadership, you shouldn’t be doing it.” It may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but trust me, pastor, if you don’t have lay leadership and support behind it, it will only make your life busier.
BEFORE YOU GO
Where are you setting limits in your life? Holding your breadth is tough. It means saying “no” to some good things so you have time and capacity for the best things.
Leaders being coached in our Pacific Conference Coaching are challenged to create a vision statement defining their purpose in each of five key areas: faith, family, finance, fitness, and ministry. If you’d like to be part of Coaching in the Pacific Conference, let the director, Tom Hurt know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.