Most ministry in the church operates according to a few principles, or laws. These four laws of ministry have been developed from the four laws of combat, but they still hold true in my experience. In fact, anytime a ministry does not work out how we’d like, it usually can be traced back to one of these laws being “violated.”
Teamwork: The first law is teamwork. Almost all ministry occurs through a team. Therefore, the leaders of a ministry must be able to communicate with and coordinate their teams so that the purpose of the ministry can be accomplished. For example, a Bible study group with both large group teaching and small group discussion will need a large amount of coordination. The main teacher will need to be recruited and confirm. The small group leaders will need to be put in place and trained. The resources will need to be printed out and distributed. Teamwork makes the dream (or ministry) work as they say.
Empower: Leaders must not only communicate and coordinate their ministry team, but they must also empower their leaders to make the best decisions in the moment. General Stanley McCrystal calls this “empowered execution.” For example, small group leaders need to be equipped and empowered to pivot a discussion away from the topic at hand to a deeper point that was brought up in the discussion. They need the freedom and training to be able to make those decisions for the good of their group because they are on the frontlines of ministry.
Prioritize: Just because we can do many different things in ministry doesn’t mean we should. Leaders need to be able to prioritize what needs to be focused on, and then mobilize the team to accomplish the goal. Too often, our ministries lack focus and therefore we can feel like we’re spinning our wheels. So pick a bull-eyes for your ministry and stick to it.
Simple: Ministries have a tendency to get too complicated. Complexity breeds confusion. Keep things simple. Keep your language direct and clear. Keep the focus of your ministry simple. If you can’t explain what your ministry does in few short sentences, it’s too complicated. For example, here’s how I explain what we do in Youth Ministry: “We play games for an hour. We do Jesus stuff for an hour. Then we eat food.” Keep everything simple. Keep plans simple; language simple; directions simple. Simple does not mean simplistic (dumbing down the truth). Simple just means not confusing or complicated.
Think back to a time when a ministry event, group, or study did not go as well as you hoped. What law of ministry was violated? Once you know what went wrong, you can go about correcting it for the next time.