Ministry to-do lists involve a lot! If your ministry to-do list is anything like mine, it involves things that happen every week, larger monthly projects, and a few annual events that all have actions required. And, often I have unexpected things that arise because I work with people, and I work inside of an organization that is larger than just my team. Getting everything done would be no problem if (a) there were no unexpected things added, (b) ministry didn’t involve people, or (c) I didn’t have a life outside of work.
Since those things aren’t going away, here are a few tips to support and encourage you with getting things done this year for your ministry. This can help you with taking your new ideas from “ideation” to “action” and this can also help you sharpen the focus on your existing work:
- Start with a Plan—Take a few minutes to identify a plan, even if you can’t plan out every detail in the first sitting. Be realistic and start writing out your ideas (paper, computer, markerboard) so you can begin to see all that is involved. Don’t forget to consider the big picture and make sure the “why” of your work matches the mission of your ministry. Also, consider the details. For some, the details will come to your mind from the very beginning, and others will need help thinking of all the details. In either case, make a plan!
- Watch the Calendar—Whenever ideas emerge, sometimes they can be put into practice immediately, and other things have to wait for the right season or timing. So, identify when your idea needs to happen and build in the proper markers along the way. One of the tools we use in Lifeway Kids is a “start meeting.” This is a specific type of meeting with the key personnel needed to kick off a project and give it a budget, timeline, and parameters. After the start meeting, there should be a clear delivery deadline and hopefully some markers along the way for seeing progress.
- Involve the Team—We are smarter together than we are individually, so plug your team into making your ministry ideas happen. If you don’t have a formal team, you can create a team to serve together on a project. Cast vision for the “why” and look for opportunities to develop their connection, earn trust, and get buy-in towards the goal. As you move forward with the team, assign tasks clearly and check in periodically. You can do more with a coordinated effort than you can alone.
- Leverage Technology—Make lists, share documents, find apps that support your idea and make it easier for the team to collaborate. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to write down a list, but if that is only in your paper notebook, nobody can view that or help you with it. Even something as simple as a shared list in the “Notes” app or a shared Google Doc will make it easier to get your team involved and keep them on the same page. There are certainly more robust project management apps if your ministry idea requires it, but starting with a shared list and a couple of meetings or updates along the life of the project will do wonders for team collaboration and accountability to the deadline.
Your best ideas deserve an opportunity for excellence. The kids in your ministry will never realize your effort to bring ideas to “done” in a more intentional way, but the impact of your work is powerful and has eternal implications. So start with a plan, watch the calendar, involve the team, and leverage technology so your ministry can transform from “lots of ideas that may somehow happen” to “ideas are developed and making an impact!”
Jeremy Echols leads the CentriKid Camps team and manages the Lifeway Kids events. He, his wife Emily, and their precious daughter love their church, their neighborhood, and spending time together. Jeremy loves to read, watch sports, and grill burgers.