Striving for doing things well (quality) is neither good or bad, but it can be done for good or bad reasons.
It’s not good to make things quality for quality’s sake. Neither to make you look impressive, or to make other people feel ashamed in comparison.
But it is good to do things quality because you love the people you’re doing it for. Quality, well rehearsed plans, and beauty are all ways of loving people. A quality sound system makes it easy to hear the speaker and avoids the ear-curdling squeaks. A quality welcoming process will always miss some people, but it will always help more people than a shoddy system.
Yes, some Christians and churches just seem to want to do things because they look cool. But maybe they’re not as shallow as you assume, maybe they just have a greater love for people than you’re aware of.
The difference between being in ‘sales’ and being in ‘ministry’ is heartbreak.
See, if I’m trying to sell you something, it’s because I get a commission, or it’s my job – get paid to help you want something (usually want something enough to buy it). If you decide to say “no”, it’s disappointing, and it may even be frustrating. I might have wasted heaps of time on one customer and never make the sale. I may even feel insecure about my ability. But that’s all.
On the other hand, if I’m doing personal follow-up at church, or inviting someone to a series like LIFE, or simply just trying to help someone see the majesty of Christ they should be living for… If they decide to say “no”, I would still experience all those things above (disappointment, frustration, insecure, etc). But, I will also experience heartbreak.
Because Christian ministry is motivated by love, it also has the potential to hurt. A lot. In fact, the more I cultivate love for you (which drives me to say certain things and do certain things) the more I open myself up to be heartbroken when I see you turn away from Jesus, continue in sin, make stupid decisions that will affect your relationship with Jesus and others.
Ministry is an investment of Jesus-inspired-love in people. We invest more than our time, energy, mind… we invest our heart. And so you can’t invest your heart into people without expecting to be heartbroken. When that happens, refill your heart with Jesus’ love and go love some more.
You have to work out what you’re happy with. And you can’t treat every scenario the same.
If you never do anything, waiting for the perfect idea to come along, you’ll never do anything. Sometimes it’s just better to run what you’ve got as best as you can. Execute the av. idea with all your might.
Other times, you might be better of working on your idea, changing the system, and let it go – even if it’s not all perfectly ready. The av. execution of a great idea might be much better than keeping doing things the old way.
For example, a video ad for one event might just get away with being av. However, go another type of event an av. video ad might turn people away.
Choose which scenario your happy with first, and then go ahead.
God gives gifts to individuals (like you) to serve his people (your church and the non-Christians around you).
Gifts from God enable people to do particular tasks really well.
If you’re struggling to do something at an average standard (kids ministry, preaching, music, admin) it might simply mean you’re not gifted in that role. That’s ok.
That doesn’t mean you stop necessarily. It might be thatGod will give you that gift in time. Or you might be in a situation where people around you need at least something, in which case your gift can be self-sacrifice.
And isn’t that everyone’s gift to give?
You have two options. Call things to an end at the height of their fun, or, call things to an end after that when everyone’s had enough.
This is something they tell teachers and cru camp leaders all the time. Finish activities at the height of the kids fun. Leave them with the taste of the game at its best, most fun. Leave them wanting more. Help them have great memories, so when they think back to what they did, they think, “Oh, I can’t wait to play that game again!!”
But how might that principle apply in other areas? Even with Adults?
Maybe church on Sundays? How can you leave people wanting more? What about Growth Group? How do you end well at the height of fun?
Some Christians just want quality for quality’s sake, or they think we need to match the world around us. Some Christians are wary of quality because they think its about manipulating feelings and that its all smoke a mirrors. But the true motivation for Christians and churches doing things well is love.
Doing things with a high degree of quality is part of making sure people don’t fall through the cracks. If you don’t welcome people to church “well” (read “with a certain degree of quality”) they won’t know how to connect. If you don’t run the Sunday meeting well, they won’t know what’s going on. If you don’t ask for feedback cards or follow them up, or run evangelistic courses well, people will fall through the cracks.
But some people will say something like, “But you don’t need to exert effort to make these things quality, you don’t need to create quality systems and programs… The Christians at church can do a quality job just on their own. You don’t need feedback cards if the individuals are just loving the new people.”
Yep, and who’s going to train them to do a quality job?
And who’s going to oversee that, when 30% of your congregation is new? Surely they need to do a quality job?
Can you see how that same love that starts with wanting to look after people, as the number of people grow and the number of people to love grows, requires and motivates love-fuelled quality in Christian ministry?
Romans 12 says, “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us […] if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently”
It seems that Jesus gives certain people the ability to “lead”; and encourages them to use that gift… diligently. The word there is “do quickly, do one’s best, do eagerly”.
What’s the principle there?
Jesus encourages the church to use spiritually-gifted people… so that tasks get done well; at their best.
Jesus seems to care about quality because he gives being gifted in doing jobs well.
If you want to improve something in your ministry, say your public meetings, or the content of your bible studies, don’t think that the only way to do it is by a massive overhaul.
Sometimes, quality has slipped over time. Or maybe it was never there. Sometimes, there hasn’t been a solid biblical foundation laid out to encourage people putting effort into it.
But sometimes, if you want to see something improve, you just need to start with one aspect. The quality of the public prayers, the quality of the kids talk, the quality of the music, the outline, etc.
Of course we’d like all those things to be great, but by working hard at improving one of these aspects, it will cause all the others to ‘lift their game’ so to speak.
We noticed this at NextStep. Our membership team improved the event, the process, the talks, until we got to the point where the booklet didn’t ‘fit’ with the quality of everything else. So we took the opportunity to make the booklet amazing. Fully colour printed, beautifully designed. Looks tops!
Guess what happened next…
All the other aspects of NextStep got put under the microscope to get them to match the quality of the booklet. All the content got re-evaluated, and there’s so many changes to make for the next one.
Do one aspect well, watch the others rise to the challenge.