A ministry leader’s role is to curate tools for maximum usefulness, with specialized knowledge and contextual understanding of your ministry.
By Zac Workun
“A tool is only as useful as your knowledge of the need.”
I’m a collector of tools, toys, and hobbies. I like things. But my Papa’s wisdom about the tools found in his simple, wooden toolbox reminds me that I don’t need every tool, if I truly understand what I’m trying to accomplish.
No number of tools (or resources) will ever increase effectiveness more than your leadership acumen to implement them diligently. There is a key shift in leading ministry effectively today. It is far less about a creative capacity and more about a deep understanding of contextual needs.“No number of tools (or resources) will ever increase effectiveness more than your leadership acumen to implement them diligently.” — @zacworkun Click To Tweet
Curators over creators
Your role as a ministry leader is not to exhaustively create or tediously choose your next resource (or curriculum). You are positioned to curate tools for maximum usefulness with specialized knowledge and contextual understanding of your church and ministry area. There are too many resources and too many questions to implement it all.
But we need to say something. We need to lead through others. And we are wise to choose tools that leverage a multitude of mentors and disciple-makers in our local church communities.
Your time is best invested in learning what parts of the material are most effective for your ministry and what value-added tools exist to improve, equip, and train your leaders. Remember, you should always be giving more attention to the material than your volunteers. So help them by bringing focus and sharpness to what is most important.
Sharpening the axe
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” So, here is my three-minute read of the best questions to ask as you sharpen the tool of curating curriculum for your team:
What is our (local church) vision for making disciples?
That’s the big question, right? We meet in smaller groups because there is something more effective, more relational, more disciple-making about it. Small groups can come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, but if you don’t know or understand how they contribute to making disciples as part of the larger vision, structure, and rhythm of the church, you may be left feeling frustrated. If a Sunday morning small group is aimed at studying the Bible, then focus and tune that group to do that well. If your midweek talkback group is intended to engage and make connections with teenagers, then lean into that worthy aim.
There are a variety of curriculums and curricular elements that are best fit once we understand the vision for why we are gathering.
What is the purpose of our gathering?
Seeing the big picture helps cover the tough weeks. If you experience an abnormally high turnover rate for small group leaders or abysmal recruitment for new leaders, it may have more to do with your vision and purpose for the small group than the material they are covering. Don’t forget to share the scope, hope, and sequence as you meet. They need to hear it from you!“If you experience an abnormally high turnover rate for small group leaders or abysmal recruitment for new leaders, it may have more to do with your vision and purpose for the small group.” — @zacworkun Click To Tweet
It is my encouragement to spend big energy annually or semiannually to address why we gather when and how we do and what purpose we believe these group gatherings accomplish. It is energizing and mobilizing for your current leaders. And ultimately, a charged-up group of leaders is the strongest recruitment play you can make.
What is our plan for time?
We have to be fair with the time we have allotted. There are a lot of small group leaders trying to shoehorn 45-minute Bible studies into a 25-minute group. Why? Because they feel like there is more to cover. Here is the truth…there is always more to cover!
One of the best things you can provide for your leaders on a week-to-week basis is a distilled version of what you want them to cover ahead of time so they feel like they can accomplish what you want them to in the time allotted.
What are the success expectations for my leaders?
It is wild to me how many ministry leaders fail to explain, equip, or encourage their small group leaders toward a specific set of success expectations. This is as essential as getting them their material.
In the same way that each curriculum is designed to favor certain settings, so too should your small group leaders understand what their weekly efforts are aimed to accomplish.
You cannot just deliver or provide the resource. You must also provide the target. Help them line up what you hope to accomplish, and encourage them when they feel like they’ve missed it.
If you don’t give them a clear target, they will aim at whatever they experienced last in their lives. Many small group leaders today lead like they were led when they were the age of those they are currently leading. If you are looking to pick up momentum or move forward in leading your ministry, it starts with your ministry to your leaders.
Our Lifeway team writes, creates, and produces some fantastic curricula to serve a variety of needs. And it’s our hope in partnership that we can help you align tools with the knowledge of your needs so you feel refreshed to the purposes, plans, and fruit of faithful ministry.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.