Have you ever experienced traction at your church? It’s a beautiful thing. Stuff just seems to work better at every turn. People invite more friends. Folks move from just attending your church to actually joining a team or getting into a small group. Your people fund the mission at levels that actually allow you to make a dent in your mission dreams. Your church moves forward.
You want your church to have traction, but what do you need to “do” to get it? What if there was just one thing you could do that would help you gain more traction? What if by doing this one thing stuff would start to click and your church would move forward?
There is one thing your church can do. It’s simple to say but hard to live out. It’s straightforward to understand but is exacting to implement.
Narrow the focus.
Focusing on a just a few things in a wide variety of areas of your ministry will give you more traction. Do less with more intensity. By focusing your effort on just a few things, your ministry will move forward because your effort won’t be diffused. What does narrowing the focus look like in your ministry? Here are some suggestions for you to talk over with your team…
Narrow the Focus in Church Communications
- Only Allow One Announcement. What if you only talked about one thing on the Sunday morning outside of the message and offering? When you give your people a variety of “asks” to participate in, they can’t keep them straight and opt-out of everything. It’s just a fact that humans can only retain so much information at a time. When you ignore this fact and pepper your people with a variety of opportunities, they can’t retain information about any of them and don’t take action. The task of working with your team to understand what the most important step is that you want people to take coming out of your services is a healthy conversation for your team and will give them clarity as they attempt to move your church forward.
- Focus the Bulletin on Guests. Do you hand out a bulletin or program to people at your church? Do people really read it? What if you put an ad in there stating that the first five people who email in get a $5 gift certificate a favorite local coffee shop? It’s humbling how few people read it enough to get free coffee! The program is great for first-time guests arriving at your church because they want to know what your church is all about. What if you remade the entire bulletin with just your guests in mind? Tell them what they need to know about your church and help them take their first steps into community.
- Reduce Your Social Media Channels. Every social network has its own culture and best practices. In a mad scramble to be relevant to more people, churches will often cross post from one network to another or make a halfhearted attempt to be on “every social network” possible. This diffusion means you aren’t getting leverage on any one channel. Pick a social network that your community is already showing signs of traction in and double down on that. Follow other organizations that are gaining traction on that network and mimic what they do. Read books and listen to podcasts from other industries that are leveraging that network and see what you could apply from those lessons. Resist the temptation to “cross post” from one network to another. Don’t move to another network until you are seeing measurable impact on your ministry.
Narrow the Focus in Your Church Programming
- Sing Fewer Songs. When talking to lots of worship or creative arts people in churches, they will often bemoan the fact that their community doesn’t sing enough during weekend services. In fact, sometimes these complaints will come across as condescending against the communities we are serving. We point fingers at our people and why “they” don’t engage in worship. The fact is that only worship leaders listen to worship music a lot. The music-people in our churches are the only people that know about the latest music that’s coming out and feel anxiety to add those songs to our weekend services. The people at our churches don’t sing because they don’t know the music we’re leading. We need to reduce the total variety of songs we’re singing so people can catch on to the song. Don’t believe me? Even in the hippest musically driven worship-culture churches, the audience participation is at the highest during Christmas when they are singing Christmas tunes. Worship leaders can’t stand that music, but people actually know it. Reduce the temptation to move on to new music. Linger longer on a smaller number of songs so your people will catch on.
- Cut Programming. Is your church suffering from “programming bloat”? Are there things your church is doing that once made sense but are no longer effective? Are there areas of your ministry that you find yourself and other leaders needing to generate enthusiasm about or are simply faking being interested in? It’s time to trim the fat and cut back on what you’re doing. Prevailing churches are often defined more by what they don’t do than what they do. They’ve chosen to focus on a few things and do those few things well. If you continue to say “yes” to some extraneous program, you are saying “no” to those resources going to your core programs. Although there will be short-term pain in cutting back on some things, there is long-term gain from the momentum you’ll add to your church.
- Ask More People to Serve More. Prevailing churches understand that a critical part of building community is getting people plugged into volunteering. In fact, effective churches are always looking to develop more volunteer roles for people to plug in. There can be a temptation in churches to “lower the bar” and make it easy for people to serve by only asking them to come in once every few months. This low level of commitment does a disservice to your people because it’s a pathway to them being less connected to the church. Increase your total volunteer roles by adding new functions to what your church does and ensure that roles require people to serve more frequently or with more intensity. People want to be wanted. Ensure the roles you craft for people so they know how important they are!
Narrow the Focus in Your Personal Life
- Set a Weekly Rhythm. What is essential to get done every week? Build a rhythm around that. As I’ve looked at leaders who have tremendous impact, their lives are often built around repeating rhythms. They focus their energy on those tasks that push the mission forward on a regular basis. Their weeks aren’t just a series of haphazard timeslots, but are pre-defined energy bursts around those areas that make the biggest impact in their ministry. What do you need to make sure pushes the ministry forward on a regular basis? Build your weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual schedule around those areas that make the biggest difference.
- Understand your “one big thing.” What’s one thing that you could do that makes everything else become easier or unnecessary? All leaders need a clear picture of what their highest priority item is at any given time, and they need to focus their time and effort on that “one thing.” One of the biggest gifts you can give to your team is helping them define what their “one thing” is and then holding them accountable to work on it. We all have an area of utmost importance that we need to keep focused on over time to create the most leverage.
- Cut Out Meetings. Meetings aren’t the work of the church. They are organizing people to do the work of the church, and so we can be tempted to think they are work. They aren’t. You are probably doing too many meetings with your people. What if you experimented and cut back the length of all your “normal meetings” by 50 percent for a month and saw what happened? What if rather than just saying yes to every meeting request that came your way, you paused and asked if the purpose of the meeting could be accomplished in another way?
Where else do you need to narrow the focus?
I’d love to hear what other areas you are considering narrowing the focus on in your ministry. How are you looking to reduce friction by doing less? Leave a comment on the blog or email me anytime!