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THE BEST.

I was fortunate to be born into a family and during a time and in a place that i was able to play a variety of different sports.  So as a freshman in High School, I wanted to go out for the baseball team, but I didn’t make the team when cuts came around.  So sad, it really hurt me and was super embarrassing. (it wasn’t the only time i had been cut from a team)  What a bummer to a boy’s ego as a 15 year old to get cut from baseball, just America’s “Favorite” National Pastime.

Leading up to that Freshman Year in High school, I had played 7 years of little league and even trained with a friend intensionally before those tryouts that I was cut from.  Lucky for me, I had also played freshman water polo and had swam at least as many seasons leading up to high school.  So, I reverted to swimming, because there were no cuts for swimming and it would help me improve for the next water polo season.

I never would have chosen to be cut from baseball.  However, following aquatics for me, was probably a much better decision.  I went on to All-American awards, setting community college conference records, inducted to the hall of fame for Saddleback Community College, received scholarship to UCI for both swimming and water polo, after college was on a team that won outdoor nationals in water polo and played with some of the best water polo players in our nations history.

Nobody would have said I was just a terrible baseball player or that I was just not good at all.  But I definitely was not the best.  There were kids, a lot of them, that were naturally better at that sport than I was.  I was never was going to be a pace setter in that field, no matter how much time and energy I put into it.  The fact is that there are kids that have been genetically built and designed to do those movements (running, hitting or throwing) better than I was and they did.

From the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, there was a case study of Walgreens ascent from a good company to a Great one.  They decided to become the most convenient as possible for the customer.  So instead of having one big amazing store, they wanted to sell those branches in order to purchase a whole bunch of locations.  In one place, there were 9 branches within a mile of one another.

 “The standard metric of profit per store would have run contrary to the convenience concept. (The quickest way to increase profit per store is to decrease the number of stores…)” 

Instead of trying to increase the profit per store, they decided to try to increase the profit per customer.  They didn’t have video rental, photo developing and groceries like some of their competitors… but they decided to become the best at one thing, convenience.  It was what saved them from from the losing race and helped them to become great.

So your like, what does that mean for ministry leadership?  I was thinking long and hard about that question: What do we do well and what is it, if anything, that we can potentially be the best at?  So I wrestled with this for a while, because I am thinking that we need to do it all well.  (Fundraising, preaching, event planning, small groups, music, decor, counseling, discipleship, etc.)  I had to think about what our “Win” is for the ministry and I questioned what it was that would relate from our ministry standard to the Walgreens indicator of “per customer profit vs. per store profit.”

For us, we believe that every person needs to be converted to follow Jesus, we try to MAKE DISCIPLES. (Matt 28:18-20) And that it happens primarily in small groups and one another relationships.  We make and follow bible study series that we use as a tool to facilitate or direct those conversions.  So our “Win” is stated like this,

“Transforming the lives of college students by the teachings, principles and example of Jesus.” 

Of course, the end goal is to fundamentally have a big group of people or to “grow the ministry.”  We host events and build environments that we want new people to be a part of and our members to attend.  We see it as a loss or not a win, when people stop following the bible’s standard of living or to be honest, to some degree even when they stop attending our stuff.  One of biggest wins are when we have events that the members attend, enjoy and bring their friends or relatives.  After that, the real win is to study the bible with someone and help them move to change and keep that direction.

So building an attractive environment that people want to be at is important.  Both how and what we communicate through the physical environment, the message that is spoken and the music is all part of that equation.  However, we can become the best in the world at that, but at the end of the day, that is not the thing that is equating to our WIN.  Because people can love the environment, but still not follow Jesus.  Now, we don’t want to unintentionally turn people away or force people to be in pain.  Like, despite the environment they are there or despite everything that is not happening, they still follow Jesus.

We really want to build an engaging environment for people to come for the first time.  I want to make it easy as possible for our member to not only want to be there, but to also bring their guests.  When I consider the Walgreens case study, I see myself striving to be the BEST at some things that I may not have the capacity to be the best at.  In our ministry for example, music is not our forte, we are pretty much not very good at it.  We are getting better and we have our moments.  We do have some talented individuals that can put together some enjoyable performances, but even they would not say the talent of our particular ministry falls in the music performance arena.

So what is our talent?  What can we be the best at?  What are we good at naturally?  I think that the thing that we might be able to be great at, relative the field of Christian Culture at large, is getting people to sit down and do a bible study.  It’s what we do.  We go to our friends or even people we don’t know, we ask them to come to church and whether or not they do or don’t come to church… every person that is part of our membership has gone through the process of sitting down and doing a bible study to become a member.  We have a pointed conversation about their lives using the bible and calling them to live a life based upon the bible.  That is what we can be the best at, doing individual bible studies with people and calling our members to do that as well.  Even historically in our particular branch of Christianity, Church of Christ’ers are known for knowing the bible.  That is like something that we have done well, teaching people how to use the bible.

It might just be the answer, if we want to “Grow the ministry” or fill out our environments and double the size of our membership.  Not, to be the best performance of music, or have the hands down most engaging environment that is out there… not the best facilities or the best fundraisers or have the most dynamic ministry event calendar.  Perhaps its just if we were to focus with an intense determination on teaching people how to study the bible with others and call others to the life transformation that we hold as the “WIN.”

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