How many times have you found yourself doing something, then a few minutes later doing something totally different than what you started out doing, unsure how you got there? In your ministry is it hard to stay focused?
It is easy to experience mission drift in the midst of a busy, fast-paced ministry. Today we’re reflecting on the unfolding Easter story in the sixth chapter of Acts and the founding of the church–and yes, missional focus and the church of Acts are related!
Spoiler Alert! The apostles faced the same tendency you face–to get involved in things outside their calling and gifting. What did they do? How did they deal with it? What can you learn from them?
Acts 6:1-9 (NIV)
Seven Men Chosen to Serve
1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
5 Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.
7 So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
What to do when you suffer from mission drift?
The apostles went through a discernment process to refocus their energies on the things God had gifted and prepared them to accomplish: their mission. Here are the steps they went through:
- Assess – they listened and observed what was going on
- Reality Check – they realized people were being neglected
- Production Capacity – they realized the movement had outgrown their team
- Delegation – they identified people better suited to distribute food
- Focus – they put their energies into the few things they were gifted to do
When you are suffering from mission drift it is one thing to recognize it, but it’s quite another to do something about it. Consider the following tips:
When you listen and look at what is going on around you, what do you see? What’s working? What forces are working against you and your mission? These insights will help you recognize, honor and strengthen the good and address the counter-productive, challenging growth points keeping you from moving your mission forward.
- What is our vision?
- How will we assess our vision?
Resource: Problem Solving Skill Builder Booklet
A sober analysis of the ministry will bring clarity. Understanding the true measures of success and having a means to evaluate the metrics is critical to the mission of your church, ministry or organization. Identify the metrics that matter, measure them regularly and make changes as needed.
- What results are we actually getting?
- How do these match up with our key result areas?
Resource: Understanding Key Issues
The things that got you to where you are today may not be the same things that take you where you want to go in the future. Your structures might be a limiting factor. Or you may not have the right kind of leaders you need to take the church, ministry or organization to the next phase in its development. Whatever the limiting factors are, be aware that the organization you have today probably will not be the same organization 5 to 10 years down the road.
- How has our structure served us well?
- What changes must we make to our structure to move into the new reality?
Resource: Problem Solving Skill Builder Booklet
The genius behind the Apostles was their willingness to delegate the responsibility of food distribution to deacons who were passionate about this ministry. For this to work, you need to identify people who are gifted and passionate or else the ministry suffers. Do you have a way to identify people’s spiritual gifts, passions and/or behavioral style so that you can help them find the best fit for them? Once you have trained, released and coached them, move aside and let them lead.
- What areas can we delegate?
- Who are the most capable, passionate, and gifted people to lead these areas?
Resource: Delegation Skill Builder Booklet
Pruning allows leaders to see reality clearly. The more clearly you see your situation the better able you are to execute. Once you have a clear picture of where you are going, consider how this will impact others on your team.
- What good things are happening that don’t contribute to the results we are after?
- What are the growth inhibiting activities that are hindering the outcomes we are after?
Resource: Change Guide
7 Questions to Stay Focused
Following are questions you can use personally (or if you are coaching a group of Jesus followers) to make more and better disciples.
- What brings you the most joy?
- In what areas are you gifted?
- How does this match up with the way you spend your time?
- What changes in priorities do you need to make?
- What can you stop doing and no one will notice?
- What can you delegate
- If you could make these changes, how would this impact you and your ministry?
Do you want to take your team on the disciple-making journey together? The Discipleship Collective helps you mobilize other disciple makers. Take the Disciple Maker Quiz to discover the habits in which you are excelling and the growth points on which you need to focus. Then invite other members of your team to join you. It’s FREE and you can use it as often as you like!
If you want your team to be better equipped to make disciples consider the DISCIPLESHIP COLLECTIVE.