Why Adapting Is Key to Ministry Success

When we talk about the word success it has a wide range of meanings for us. A definition that frequently comes to mind is better: better than now, better than you were before, better in the context of what has been, and better in light of what could have been.

A few months ago, I was teaching my daughter how to ride her bike and as she got better, we had to move the training wheels. As we moved the wheels in order for her to improve her technique and achieve success, she had to adapt to the new level and height of the wheels. As this happened, it made me think about ministry. If we’re going to be successful and better, we have to be willing to adapt. If we don’t adapt, we will end up not finishing or not finishing as strong.

We have to build in check-in moments throughout the ministry calendar when we can look for signs that we need to adapt our plan. The reason is twofold.

1. If we don’t adapt we can get too comfortable. In ministry it is easy to just expect each week and each ministry activity to be the same. We can form a sort of ministry autopilot syndrome where we just coast and can’t remember how or why we’re doing ministry. Churches who don’t adapt to the changing times or to their environment end up being white noise or the building in the community that people know is there, but don’t pay attention to. We can’t afford to be that building or to be seen in that way with the amount of work that needs to be done for the gospel.

2. If we don’t adapt we can miss opportunities to do meaningful ministry. One of the key features of adapting in the right way and at the right time is being able to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. There are several examples I could name, but one that really stands out is the somewhat recent move for ministries to fully adopt online ministry as a real platform for reaching more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now I understand that even as I type these words, some ministries haven’t fully embraced this kind of ministry. I was just at a meeting at Facebook, and we discussed this ministry opportunity and the reality that many churches haven’t used the tools provided. If they don’t adapt to the fact that there are exponentially more people online than can fit in their buildings, it only hurts their ability to minister to all people. I’m not suggesting that churches have to change everything in their services, but they need to be mindful of the people who might want to worship online with them and be impacted by their services.

In this area, as with any other area of ministry, it’s important to understand and acknowledge that if we don’t adapt, opportunities will pass us by. As a church, we don’t want to be Blockbuster, Kodak, Yahoo, Atari, Myspace, etc. We have to be willing and looking to adapt in order to have real and sustainable success in every area.

How are you adapting your ministry?

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Russell St. Bernard
Russell St. Bernard

Russell St. Bernard is the director for ministry operations at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the founder of After the Music Stops, a full-service youth ministry company as well as founder of Ministry Pivot, a company dedicated to assisting leaders and churches seize opportunities for growth.