Several years ago I was the ministry leader for a start up ministry. We were trying to get something new happening and so a few of us pitched the idea to a number of our friends and people we knew. Mostly it involved going out to dinner with friends and chatting to them over a meal. We would explain the vision, the concept, some of the practical steps and what we needed from each person. There was a sense of urgency because we wanted to get this up and running and we needed a start up team. The pitch worked on about half of the people, but we got our start up team.
Fast forward about a year and half and we had grown to about 20-30 people in the ministry. This was a good position to be in at that time but we wanted to grow bigger. Every time we held a meeting we would ask ourselves “who else do we know that we could get to come along?”. The problem was that we had already asked most of the people we knew and after 18 months of doing life together this group was our friendship circle. We were trying to get the next 20 people using the same strategy as how we got the first 20 people.
This experience taught me a valuable lesson about growing a ministry:
“You can’t do more of the same to get you to the next level”
Doing what got you growth in the start up phase may not lead to future growth. When we wanted to grow a start up we asked the people we knew. To make the next growth leap we needed to get people we didn’t know so they could invite their friendship circles. Sometime in ministry we try to repeat the things that made us successful hoping that we will get the same result.
Andy Stanley says that growth doesn’t come from something that is tweaked, it comes from something new. You can hear his talk on the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast here.
Growing a ministry from one level to another is not the same; getting the first 10 people to commit to a new ministry might take as much work as adding another 30. Some growth levels are bigger jumps than others. For example when you double your start up team of 10 you are only adding 10 more people, you can handle 10 new names and faces. When you double a ministry with 50 you add another 50 people which changes the dynamics to that of a crowd. Imagine a bring a friend night with a group of 150 regulars, you could have another 150 new faces walking around which is way to much for one person to handle. Each new growth level brings new challenges and new group dynamics so you can’t do more of the same.
What have you found to be the growth levels that have forced you to function differently? How did you handle it? Please leave a comment to help us all out.