One of the challenges of church planting is staying lean. I became a Pastor under a programmatic mindset – offer enough things and more people will come. Thankfully, I came across a good book long ago that helped to shift my thinking. Instead of a list of programs to attract people, what we really need is a simple process for growing people.
Programs can easily become dead weight and create the drudgery of having to “find volunteers” to staff them. But processes scale with growth naturally. Nonetheless, there will still be times to determine how to best reach out to a new group of people – students, seniors, divorcees, etc. How do you know when it’s time to pull the trigger on launching a new ministry? I have two criteria…
1. There is enough supply.
That is, there is someone, or a group of people, ready to lead it. They may be people whom you’ve raised up, or they may be people who have shown up, but they have the spiritual gifts, heart, ability, personality, and experiences necessary to pull it off. And most importantly, they have the “want to.”
2. There is enough demand.
The second indicator is that God has opened the door with the intended audience. It could be that God has opened your eyes to a new need in the community, or there is an influx of people in a similar life stage.
Even when these two indicators are present, I still don’t recommend starting ministries haphazardly or randomly. In fact, there are still other filters to be considered. Grace Hills Church, for example, doesn’t have a “men’s ministry.” What we do have is a bunch of men we hope to connect in small groups. The same is true for women.
Launching a “women’s ministry” with outings and adventures for “all the ladies” isn’t scalable and doesn’t fit with our vision and values, which is rooted in the idea that people grow in circles (small groups) and not rows (large gatherings). So starting more large gatherings can actually distract people from getting into a group, which would be a loss for us no matter how large the ministry grew.
As you clarify your own vision and values, and chart your strategy for launching new initiatives, avoid the “scrounging” syndrome. If you have to scrounge for either volunteers or attenders to make a program work, try something else.