encourage the exploration of scripture
Early in my pastoral career, I repeatedly encountered a piece of practical “wisdom” that went something like this: When someone comes to you with a ministry idea for the church, ask that person to become the leader of the effort. Maybe you’ve heard similar advice. Unfortunately, whether this was meant for organic leadership development, the sane preservation of the pastors schedule, or as a simple rubric to avoid the pain of saying no, it was lazy advice.
When confronted with a new ministry idea from a church member, ask three questions.
#1) Does this idea fit with the mission of the church?
#2) Does this idea fit with the strategy of the church?
#3) Is this idea best pursued by the church community?
Testing an idea against the mission statement of the church is the first and most important filter. However, it only catches a few off-target ideas. Most church mission statements are general enough to fit any well-meaning ministry idea from the congregation.
Testing an idea against the strategy of the church is the least popular pastoral response to a good idea, particularly when the idea obviously lines up with the mission of the church. This is because most churches have never articulated a strategy or know the organizational difference between a mission and a strategy.
Finally, some ideas are best pursued by individuals and efforts outside the church community. For example: inviting friends, neighbors, and coworkers to serve with you in a local shelter might realize the love of God more effectively than inviting the church family.
Scenario: A church member comes to you with the idea of a monthly men’s book club which will rotate through various spiritual titles selected by group discussion. It will include a year-end retreat with a speaker. Does this idea fit your particular church? It might or might not. How would you respond?