Three Ways to Escape the Process Trap in Your Ministry

Ed Young recently posted a YouTube video titled Death by Process and it got me thinking.

In our ministries – how often do we fall into a process trap?


There is certainly a place for processes in our ministry. They create order from chaos and can provide a road map for others to follow that ensures everyone is working toward the same outcomes.


But think about it. How often do we find a formula or solution that works for us and then (often unintentionally) adapt that idea to the point it becomes “the way we do things . . . always!”


Young points out that processes work great when circumstances never change. So what does that mean?


A church service probably occurs on a set day of each week. A small group or discipleship group may meet every other Tuesday, etc. The dates are constant and we know “something” will happen when we convene.


But how often are the people dynamics or even what has happened in life unchanged, even though we may see someone or gather as a group at a set time and place each week?


So, how do you escape falling into the “we’ve always done it and that works for us” trap?

Consider the following three solutions:


1. Question Everything


Just as a four year old’s favorite question is “why”, so should our question be as we think about our ministry.


Why do we “do” Sunday School this way? Why do we use the same evangelism tool year after year? Why do visitors attend once or twice then never return? Why do we spend X dollars each year on a particular program or event?


Questions are essential, but what is critical is our response to them.


Can we fully explain that we “do what we do” because it is biblically-based, spirit-led and is reaping results (I Corinthians 10:31)? Or, have we slowly fallen into the trap of familiarity?


2.  Broaden Your Horizon


Apart from your guidance from the Lord, where and whom do you seek information?


Although there is no substitute from your close circle of mentors and ministry leadership (Proverbs 11:14), there can also be great wisdom in looking outside your ministry, and sometimes even exploring resources that are geographically different from you. Looking outside your circle of advisors must be intentional because we are naturally creatures of habit.

An approach of self assessment is a trait that sets apart forward-thinking ministries.

What are other ministries trying? How are they reaching a new generation or tapping into an established demographic? How are other ministries taking advantage of technology to spread the Gospel?


As you explore and discover different and new ideas, the critical thinking then turns to the most important question: Is there some application for our ministry?


3.  Learn . . . Apply . . . and Go


Young makes the statement in his video that the application and learning from others gives the chance to create new pathways. In other words, what innovative journey should we take based on what we’ve learned?


While it is time consuming to build a network of resources and to thoughtfully and intentionally audit your ministry, the hardest step is to do something with your new found knowledge (James 2:26).


Application and Movement. What does your pathway look like? Focused learning and application has the potential to ignite real innovation in your ministry. It’s births new vision; creates excitement; and engages people.


So as you consider blazing new trails (pathways) in your ministry, let me encourage you to take on the inquisitive nature of a four-year old and begin to ask the one question that, if answered, will prevent you from the slippery slope of process death in your ministry.

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