Well oiled machine or Plateau?
I like the way a well oiled machine runs…there are no problems. There is no proverbial squeaky wheel – it’s all smooth. I think everyone prefers to be a part of things that run well. Given a choice between a new 2012 Lexus fresh off the lot and a 1972 Nova – I’m picking the new Lexus. I know it’s going to run smoother…
When I was in college I had an advisor who said he considered it a successful midweek service when he could sit in his office and enjoy a cup of coffee. This sounded like a good thing to me – after all if your ministry could run on auto pilot then you must be doing something right – right?
I think a lot of folks are striving for that perfect ministry running like a well oiled machine – they get tired of dealing with problems and want a relief…”When will this end?” They scream! I’ve had a few moments like that myself…I actually spent time trying to setup a Children’s Ministry that would let me sit in my office and drink a cup of coffee – before I realized the problems with that style.
I do believe that we need to strive for a ministry that is running well – smoothly even – not constantly in crisis mode. But in that striving to become a well oiled machine you have to be careful that you don’t hit a plateau. It’s easy when you are looking for a place to “arrive” – to find a flat spot to rest. And I’ve got news for you – if you’ve found that spot, you’ve found a plateau.
In ministry we can never stop looking for ways to improve – my Pastor shared a thought with us “The first draft is never good enough…” – and he’s right. If we are doing the same things we were doing last year in the exact same way – we probably aren’t evaluating our program.
I had another advisor in college – he had a little different philosophy than the first. In a class on ethics we were given an assignment to write a paper on how two books affected our personal ethics. A girl in the last row of the class raised her hand and asked “What is nothing changed?” His response is classic and true – “I have read these books 4 times – each time I’ve read them something in my personal ethics has changed. If nothing changed for you – then you didn’t read them.”
If nothing’s changed in your ministry and it seems to be running well – there’s a good chance you’re sitting on a flat spot and often times of the other side of a plateau is a downhill slope…