Let’s do a quick mental exercise. Think for a moment about the times you’ve been most energized as a ministry leader. Now, think about the times you’ve felt drained and depleted. What was it that made you energized? Chances are good that when you were energized in your leadership, there was progress. Progress (or momentum) is exciting isn’t it? Ministry is happening, people are growing in their relationship with Jesus, things are happening in our communities and within the families in our congregations. While it’s natural to go through seasons when our ministry efforts don’t seem to be moving forward as quickly as we’d like, there are a few common (but avoidable) leadership mistakes that can cause ministry momentum to stagnate.
Mistake 1: Failure to create clarity for your staff and volunteers
Lack of clarity in any organization is the fastest route to dysfunction, frustration and waste. In Will Mancini’s book Church Unique, he observes that mistrust, personal ego and lack of strategic clarity are all results of an overall lack of clarity.
What should you actually clarify? Roles and priorities. Clarifying roles begins with clarifying job roles and responsibilities. By clarifying job descriptions, you help the people you’re managing and leading know what they’re responsible for and what is expected of them.
This helps them know what the “win” looks like in their unique role.
Clarifying priorities can be a little more of a challenge. But, the starting point is to create clarity for yourself.
Mistake 2: Failure to create clarity for yourself.
How is your “to-do” list looking today? Is it overwhelming to try to figure out what to tackle first? How do you know which task is most important?
Spending sideways energy on a low priority task is one of the greatest dangers to accomplishing your ministry objectives. Why? Because activity can have the appearance of effectiveness. But, the two aren’t the same.
To make sure you’re focusing on what matters, try creating a priorities document (like the one we offer in the Church Management Blueprint) to help you sift tasks. Here’s how it works:
Pick four priorities that will contribute to the completion of of your ministry goal for that quarter, and tackle one priority over four weeks. So, four priorities tackled over four weeks—pretty straight forward.
Mistake 3: Failure to invest in your people.
As leaders, our words have staying power in the lives of those we lead. As Solomon said, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21). Work at consistently making deposits in people’s emotional bank accounts.
Here are some tips to value your staff and volunteers:
- Listen well
- Give interested attention to people
- Celebrate other people’s victories
- See the good in people and see God at work in them
- Notice the little things
- Be “present” in conversations
Mistake 4: Failure to lead effective meetings.
It doesn’t matter how clear our meeting agendas are, how good the snacks are in our meetings, or how much good discussion we have; if our meetings don’t produce outcomes, they’re pointless.
How do you keep that from happening? Take 15 minutes before you close each meeting and answer these three questions:
- What did we decide?
- Who needs to know what we decided?
- Who is responsible?
All of these principles are foundational to effectively managing your church. We created the Effective Meeting Cheat Sheet to make getting started easy. Use our free meeting template to start leading meetings that actually move ministry forward!