Perhaps you’ve heard of an “elevator speech.” If not, here’s the idea. As you step on an elevator, someone asks you what your organization (church or ministry) does. You have until the end of the elevator ride – about 15-20 seconds – to answer. You’d probably give your vision or mission statement plus a couple of extra sentences of explanation.
Now imagine that you’re going to the top floor of a 100-story building. What if the questioner follows up and asks, “So how will you accomplish the vision? What are you working on right now?” That’s the point at which the answer gets fuzzy for many ministry leaders. They might list all their different programs, but it’s a response that lacks conviction. It’s indicative of a lack of strategic focus.
I’m increasingly convinced that most churches and ministries would be far better off if they focused on one thing at a time. That doesn’t mean killing all their other programs. We will always have routine activities that are ongoing. A focus on one thing, however, does mean giving disproportionate time and energy, for a season, to a single initiative that can best advance the vision.
What might that look like? A church determines that missional engagement will be their “one thing” for the next year. New mission partnerships are established. New systems are created to make it easy for people to engage in missions and to measure participation. Small group leaders are trained and encouraged to include hands-on missions as part of the group experience. The mission emphasis is highlighted in a sermon series, and stories are told in other sermons and in regular communications for the next 12 months. Other ministries continue during this time, but the focus on missional engagement is unmistakable. As the year ends, leadership evaluates the results of this emphasis and decides what the next “one thing” should be.
I already know the objection to this idea: “We can’t just focus on one thing.” There’s no doubt that being this selective is difficult. The decision-making process may generate intense conversations or cause hurt feelings. But consider the alternative. Far too often, when churches and ministries attempt to do multiple things, their fragmented efforts result in nothing.
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