3 Ways to Get Your Ministry Shipshape . . .

I’m a sucker for a fixer-upper. That weakness may explain why I’m in the business of working to heal churches with painful histories. It also explains the motivations behind my recent boat purchase, which some of you read about in my last blog, Lessons from a Boating Fiasco.  Apparently many readers took delight in the story of my boat trip turned rescue operation. So, at the recommendation of one reader, here’s the follow-up.

The boat is now TOTALLY lake-worthy. Any of you with acceptable levels of life insurance are welcome to join me for some time on the water. After replacing the motor, wiring, upholstery, carpet, radio and hooking up navigation lights that were never connected at the factory, we’re ready to go – I think.

For good measure I had an emblem painted on the back of the boat reading, “APPEAL TO HEAVEN.” That’s the phrase emblazoned on the flag of George Washington’s first six ships during the Revolutionary War. He faced such ridiculous odds, going up against the British navy, that he felt compelled to raise a flag with “APPEAL TO HEAVEN” on it.

What does working with ministries in pain have in common with the kind of work that went into FINALLY getting my boat shipshape?  Here are a few examples:

  1. Proper Diagnosis – Did I know that the boat had a loose wire that would cause it to short out and leave me stranded? No, in my eagerness to get out on the water I made some wrong assumptions about how the craft would perform. But once a proper diagnosis revealed the true problem, the solution applied had the intended result. Pastors and ministry leaders often get excited by a new opportunity and dream big dreams; they want to “get out on the water” of their ministry in a hurry without doing any assessment of the craft. Not wise! If you need help properly assessing your church’s true health we invite you to give our online survey a try.
  1. Factory Issues – Who could have guessed that the navigation lights were never hooked up at the factory twenty years before? I tested wires for hours trying to find a short, only to pull on some excess wire and discover that it was never attached to the lights! Some of the problems churches face go back to the way it was constructed at the start. If their founding resulted from a church split, was damaged by an unhealthy mother church, or it was established in reaction or rebellion to some previous ministry, then things are not “hooked-up properly” from the get-go. At some crucial moment, when your hopes perhaps are highest, the craft fails to operate. But, with a little time spent assessing things, the causes of malfunctioning ministry can be identified and repaired.
  1. Appealing to Heaven – If George Washington faced ridiculous odds going up against the British navy and felt the need to cry out to heaven, how are we responding to the forces of evil opposing the gospel today? With the opposition growing more militant, resolute and strident than what George faced, it’s not just moral decency in the cross-hairs. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. The enemy aims to eradicate it. We need corporate “vessels of honor” (2 Tim. 2:21) who are ready to face such opposition. Those of us in ministry know, that does not describe many churches or ministries today. The rancor, the ugly divisions, the focus on the wrong measures of success, the elevation of celebrity over substance…just to name a few, all should drive us in shame to our knees and appeal to heaven for God to send times of refreshing and healing once again, to let us hear what He is really saying to our churches and ministries.

With careful, prayerful diagnosis, checking our church’s “factory specs” and with great dependence on heaven above, any congregation that hears from and responds to its Lord can be reclaimed and put back into purposeful service. If you feel like your ministry is either dead in or taking on water, we hope you’ll consider putting the ministry in dry dock for assessment, and getting it refitted for the increasingly challenging ministry environment ahead. This is why Blessing Point exists—call us if you need us.

Your comments are always welcome!

Rev. Mark Barnard serves as President of Blessing Point Ministries. Blessing Point works to heal local churches that have been wounded by painful crises. Barnard is the author of the recently released book, Diagnosing the Heart of Your Church – How Church Leaders Can Assess Systemic Corporate Dysfunction.

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