I've tried to carry much of this learning over into my spiritual life and into the way I minister to people. Something I've seen in many ministries that have failed is that there was no solid plan to execute. Therefore, things were destined to fall apart. I'm not necessarily speaking about a church, but smaller ministries within the church. The best intentioned folks will fail if they have no plan. Too often, we focus on having a vision, but we don't have a plan to get to that goal. I was encouraged recently by reading of a friend's new ministry. If you read his website, you can see that the man has a definite plan in place. Does a great plan mean that things will work out just as we desire? Not every time, but no plan will certainly lead to catastrophe.
Recently, I was in a meeting at work. Our GM gave a quick 4-point outline that generally spells success (at least in the area which we were discussing). I think there are some parallels here that translate quite well to ministry. The four steps are: Plan, Organize, Execute, Audit.
This is obviously extremely important. Let's say that you want to begin a new outreach ministry in your church. The planning phase is extremely important. You obviously want to identify what type of outreach ministry this will be (sports outreach, door-to-door outreach, bus ministry, addictions ministry, troubled youth ministry, etc.), but beyond that there is still a lot of planning that must take place. Who are some key folks to help you in this ministry? How much time will you be able to give to this ministry? How much time will this ministry require to have the proper impact? When will the new ministry be launched? What additional resources will you require? These are a few of the questions that you might ask yourself.
You've got your basic plan together....now what? This is where many of the best-laid plans completely fall apart. Recruit the help you need. Put together a drive to get the additional physical resources you need. Spend some focused time in prayer with your ministry partners for this new ministry. This is the phase where you hammer out all the little details.
You've got the plan and it's organized, now put it to work. There's got to be some ability to be flexible, but don't abandon the weeks and months of planning at the first sign of trouble. Just because something doesn't go as planned initially, it doesn't mean that it needs to be scrapped. If you've handled the planning and organizing phases properly, you may well have anticipated these problems anyway. Give the plan a chance to work.
This is pretty simple...go back frequently and make sure that things are working and that they are working well. If some portion of the plan has been a bust from day one, improve on it or scrap it altogether. If something is working real well, look at it closely and see if it can be tweaked even more. This plan should be living - otherwise the ministry might become stagnant and the workers complacent.
Just a few thoughts from an old factory hand....