There are many skills that ministry leaders need to develop. Among them are skills like teaching & preaching, leading meetings, planning events, caring for people, responding to crises, and so on. However, there are some less fashionable skills that are just as essential and are just hard, dirty work. There are five in particular that have been on my mind, lately. They are: 1) Managing Checklists, 2) Managing Calendars, 3) Using Time Well, 4) Communicating Well, and 5) Building Teams. There are more essential skills that I’ll be posting about in the future. But, the next five posts in this “Essential Skills” series will explore these particular skills in more detail.
Checklists are vital for leading an effective ministry. There are some things you have to do every single week. There are some things your ministry does every single week. There are also recurring events and projects that you do every quarter or every year. Learning to create checklists, manage them, and deploy them to your teams will significantly improve your effectiveness as a leader.
I’ll explain more about this in my post on Managing Checklists.
Ministry is a calendar driven endeavor. There are two calendars you need to manage well: your personal calendar and your ministry calendar. Getting your personal calendar planned out will improve your ability to ensure that the checklists get done. If you don’t put blocks of time into your schedule to accomplish your tasks then all the stuff you love to do (meeting and talking with people, having significant conversations, having a casual day, etc.) will keep you from getting them done. I map out my weekly schedule on a four-week monthly rotation. Then I program it into my computer calendar that syncs with my phone. And, I follow it as rigorously as possible. Getting your ministry calendar planned out months and even years in advance will greatly improve your ministry’s long term success and sustainability. We map out our calendar at least a year at a time.
I’ll explain more about how we do this in my post on Managing Calendars.
Using Time Well
It’s so easy to lose time and/or spin our wheels during the day. Sometimes, while preparing for a message or a lesson, our thoughts can drift and we start spinning our wheels. Sometimes, while caring for the people around us and enjoying good chemistry with others, we can unintentionally lose time to accomplish the things that must yet be done, regardless. If we’re not careful and intentional about using our time efficiently, it can lead to low productivity. While it’s important to care for people and maintain good chemistry others, a good leader will find ways to also ensure they’re using their time efficiently.
I’ll explain more about this and share some things I’m learning in my post on Using Time Well.
Poor Communication is the most common complaint church people have about church leadership. The best leaders find ways to do well with communications. It seems to me that there three major categories of communications that are absolutely necessary for ministry leaders to utilize. They are 1) Verbal (word-of-mouth, personal and corporate invitations), 2) Digital (Website, Social Media, Email, Texting), and 3) Print (handouts, mailings, and info packets/brochures).
I’ll talk more about what we do in my post on Communicating Well.
The worst thing a leader can do is to do it all him/herself. It is absolutely vital that we constantly look for ways to include other people (volunteers) in what we’re doing. We must always be looking for things that we can give away for others to do so that we can do what only we can do. Along with that is the privilege of speaking into their lives, caring for them, coaching them, and helping them succeed as they care for kids and students. Unfortunately, many ministry leaders dread recruitment. But that is one of our primary responsibilities. As the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians (4:11-12) “Christ himself gave … pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” It’s our job to equip the church to do the ministry. We can’t do that if we don’t relentlessly empower people to fulfill the calling to which God is leading them through our invitations.
I’ll share more about that in my post on Building Teams.