Shrink to Excellence

            The pandemic has left us feeling overwhelmed, and our congregation is no exception. We’ve been forced to adapt to new (mostly online) strategies to continue our ministries, and while we want to keep things going as “normal” as possible, it’s still unclear what that will look like. The result has been something like just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

            It takes a LOT of energy, time, and resources to run a congregation. Worship planning and evaluation. Outreach and communication oversight. Stewardship campaigns. Faith formation and Christian education. Pastoral care and visitation. Fellowship and community organizing. Staff management and office administration. Property maintenance. Social ministry and service to the community. Connecting to the wider Church organization and ecumenical partnerships.

            Phew. That’s a LOT. Historically, we have had teams organized to do the work of all of these ministries. But even before the pandemic, our resources (particularly people’s time) has been limited as to how to maintain all of the meetings and planning necessary to do the work. It can leave us feeling frustrated and fearing failure. We want to continue to do all of these wonderful ministries, but at the same time, we can start to feel burnt out. 

            This is a COMMON mistake that congregations make: wanting to do everything. But when we spend all of our energy on trying to do everything, we can only put a little bit of energy into each thing. That leaves us feeling like nothing’s “working.” We go much farther much faster when we focus on a FEW things that we do WELL, and give all of our energy to that. 

            This is an idea that is sometimes called “shrinking to excellence,” but it’s the general logic of playing to your strengths. The truth is, no one Church can do everything, but when we focus on a few effective ministries, we will see growth. It can take time, but consistency is key. And the good news is that the benefits often spill over into other areas of ministry that are strengthened. 

            Case in point: years of focusing our social ministry efforts on partnerships with HomeFront has created so many ministry opportunities from feeding programs to youth ministry through our sponsored youth events. Vibrant youth ministry has been a by-product of focusing our service ministry on one thing: providing food for HomeFront. This ministry has strengthened relationships and our presence in the community, and has even resulted in new members. 

            St. Mark will look different as we move into our next year of ministry together, but we have tremendous opportunities before us that have been previewed by some of our ministries that have really thrived during the pandemic. I look forward to seeing where we will focus our efforts this fall to maximize our impact in sharing the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in our ministries, especially if you have ideas, let’s talk! 


Pastor Ian 

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