The Orchard Blog

The Simple Filter by orchardblog
February 8, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: The Orchard

Recently I was asked by another church leader about the “filter” we use at The Orchard to ensure that we keep things simple (see here). What questions do we ask ourselves to ensure that new ideas or intiaitves are really great ideas that will fit in our culture?

First of all, most new “we gotta have this” ministry ideas come from churched people new to The Orchard. “Well at my last church we did….” Of course, this IS the church they just left! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, when someone steps forward with the newest “must have” idea (no matter who it is) we as a staff ask the following questions:

1) Will this accomplish our mission? A basic question, but one that surprisingly is skipped if you are not intentional about it. What about the proposed idea will help people take their next step on their journey with God? How specifically will it do that? In other words… is it mission-critical? This question is one that most will easily gloss over if it is not drilled down on specifically. What about it is critical to our mission? Is something else already addressing this need? How will this do it better? Will our job of helping lead people on a growing relationship with Jesus be harmed if we DON’T do this?

2) Is this a step or a program (thanks Andy Stanley!)? A continuation of #1, is this one more train car attaching itself to our locomotive, or is this an engine to help people grow? Is it added weight, sucking up dollar, time, and leader resources, or is it an engine for producing growing Christ followers? If it is a step, where does it fit on our Growth Path? (We have what some would call an Assimilation Path… the idealized road map from first time guest all the way to staff.) Is it a reachable step? Just like a stone footpath has steps that are a reasonable stride-length from each other, each of our steps must be small enough for everyone to reach them. Always think next steps!

3) Is there a leader identified? More than just asking “is there a warm body who says they want to see whatever-it-is happen”… is there a tested leader, whom we have seen undergo some trials, whose character we have already had chance to observe, and whose diligence is documented, ready and passionately willing to lead this new thing into greatness? This is often our single biggest impediment to anything new… we HAVE to have a great leader feel great about it! Of course, this means that a growing number of leaders has to be in development, which we do through monthly FUEL meetings and our recruiting and reproducing efforts. But that’s another blog post entirely!

4) Is it sustainable? So many “great” ideas are flashes in the pan. But if this is really a mission-critical, must-have opportunity, is is sustainable week in and week out for the next year? Five years or longer? Can we afford the time, dollar, and leader resources that it will take to make sure it is done WELL over the long haul. Better to count the cost up front, and leave a good idea on the back burner a bit longer, than launch something prematurely only to have it strangle you in the lean times. A church can only sustain so many “good ideas” before the leaders burn out, the money goes away, and the church people spend all of their time trying to keep all of the church program plates spinning instead of living as Christ followers in their communities. A lot of leaders act as if the church has unlimited leadership resources… we guard our limited resources jealously!

5) Why are we REALLY considering this? Church leaders can fall victim to “us too” pressure. The church down the street offers a great VBS… us too! I hear Rick Warren is going to…. us too! The kindly old matron saint in the third row thinks that all churches should offer… us too! We try to remember that even if every church since Acts 2 has offered a particular program or event, it doesn’t mean that God wants us to do it too! I will often ask staff or volunteers if they are feeling pressure to have a ministry. Most of the time, external, people-originated pressure for an activity or ministry is a recipe for disaster. Lead from freedom, from a God-centered calling, knowing that as church leaders we will answer to God for how we lead… not to anybody in the third row! ๐Ÿ™‚



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