Don’t Blow Up Your Ministry by Solving the Wrong Problem:A Case Study from The Man in the Mirror Men’s Bible Study
The Man in the Mirror Bible Study has been meeting weekly since 1986. Groups of six to ten men sit around 25 tables and discuss the messages under the supervision of a Table Leader. We also have monthly Table Leader Meetings at my home office.
With the busy “ten talent” men we have as leaders, I always considered two-thirds attendance at Table Leader Meetings to be great. At about the 15 year mark, though, Table Leader attendance at the meetings dropped from about two-thirds (or more) to about one-half (or less). I didn’t know what to make of it—or whether to take it personally. On one hand, the Bible study was cooking right along, so why upset the apple cart? On the other hand, it says right in the job descriptions they sign that they will attend!
It is easy to look at the data and come to the wrong conclusion. It’s easy to go off half cocked and solve the wrong problem. I knew that the devil would like nothing better than for me to “blow up” our very successful Friday morning Bible study over the Table Leader Meeting attendance issue.
I knew I needed to wait on the Lord to clarify the problem, but now several years had gone by. Finally the issue did clarify—today as a matter of fact. I could find no correlation between Leader Meeting attendance and success at leading a table on Friday mornings. Quite the contrary, the men who don’t attend leader meetings all have awesome tables on Friday morning. So they don’t really need to be at the leader meetings from that stand point. At the same time, leaders who are not “plugged in” are ripe to get picked off.
Here’s the solution: Together, the Table Leaders and I decided this morning that the Man in the Mirror Bible Study and the Table Leader Meetings are “two separate ministries” (versus “one ministry with two parts”). We decided a Table Leader doesn’t have to attend the monthly leader meetings provided he is part of some other group that provides a measure of accountability. But I love the monthly meetings—it’s my “table”—so anyone who wants me to be their “Table Leader” can come to the monthly meetings.
And, best of all, God gave us the wisdom to not blow up a perfectly good ministry over an issue easily, if not quickly, solved in a different way.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.