Scott Hardaway, pastor of Pathway Community Church, the UB church in Jackson, Mich., wrote a superb blog post called “Something to Believe In.” He talks about how we too often squander laypersons’ time and energy in ministries that lack purpose.
Here are three paragraphs from the middle of the piece. You should read the whole thing, including Scott’s own purposeful goals for himself in 2009.
I believe that churches too often simply assume that everything they do is worthwhile. It might even be true (although, usually it’s not), but I guarantee that the average person in the pew does not make that same assumption. The average person wants to know, “OK, if I give my time to this thing, what difference is that going to make? What’s the impact that my contribution is going to have?” And if we can answer that question satisfactorily, we’ll find people lining up to serve because every single one of us has an innate, God-given desire to make a real difference with our lives.
Part of answering that question satisfactorily, however, lies in our ability to own up to the fact that we have in fact wasted people’s time and efforts in the past. We have invested them in places that really didn’t make any difference. We have created ministries that were not strategic, that were not well-planned or excellently executed. We have mis-shepherded the hearts and lives of our people and put them in positions where they were destined to fail, usually due to no fault of their own.
So we must commit to not doing that anymore. We must solemnly promise (and then, of course, follow through on that promise) to do our part in developing ministries that matter–ministries that really allow those serving to make an impact or an investment in the lives of other people; ministries that tangibly bring glory to God, instead of simply supporting our structure. And the best way to do that is to set clearly defined, concrete goals that spell out plainly what will be accomplished through any particular ministry.