Launching new initiatives in a ministry or organization can be exciting. So how do you determine what to start? Because there will always be more opportunities than time, energy, and resources, focus is absolutely essential. To help you find focus when navigating the idea jungle, consider six filtering questions when choosing new initiatives to launch:
1. Does it advance God’s Kingdom? This is the end all question. If the new work does not contribute positively to the advancement of God’s Kingdom, it should be a “no go.” Unfortunately, many initiatives advance personal kingdoms rather than walking in step with the work God is up to in the world.
2. Is it in alignment with our vision and mission? Strategies without alignment are nothing more than black holes for time, money, and talent. You must be able to clearly connect the dots between a new initiative and the organization’s vision and mission. You will undoubtedly be tempted to stretch or force it to make it fit. It’s amazing how we can convince ourselves that a good idea is a God idea when, in fact, it may be nothing more than a great idea for somebody else’s church. Remember, vision and mission are the big rocks in the jar. Don’t fill the jar of your leadership with the pebbles of neat ideas and fail to leave room for the God ideas that will help you fulfill God-inspired vision.
3. Do we have, or can we acquire, the leadership to drive it? When we fail to answer this question, guess who ends up driving the new initiative–YOU. That’s why creating a leadership pipeline is so important.
4. How will we get the resources to effectively launch it? Notice I didn’t say, “Do you have the resources to launch it?” You will never feel you have enough money and volunteers to start something new. The resource challenge, as Bill Hybels observes, is where a leader’s mettle is tested. One of the greatest keys to the resource challenge is to prioritize your initiatives.
5. Will the initiative compete with existing ministry or create sideways energy? The tendency is to launch many ministries a mile wide and an inch deep rather than honing in on a handful of initiatives that will make the deepest impact. Launching too much too soon tends to create not only a resource drain on the organization, but an emotional drain as well. Andy Stanley warns of the dangers of sideways energy. Sideways energy occurs when ministries compete with one another or we manufacture enthusiasm about programs that we’re really not all that excited about. In other words, we tell everybody to get involved, but deep down on the inside we wish we didn’t have to get involved ourselves. I’m sure you can think of a few ministries or initiatives in your church or organization where you manufacture energy.
6. Is it sustainable? Many leaders are great starters but horrible finishers. That’s why it is so important to press pause on your excitement about new programs and ask yourself, and those you lead, “Is this new initiative sustainable?” Launching without finishing never does much long-term good for the Kingdom.
Think about a new ministry, program, or initiative you would like to launch and use the six questions to filter whether or not it’s the right initiative to launch. Because leaders are typically emotionally tied to their ideas, it’s usually best to answer these questions with a core team that will shoot straight with you.