There is a big difference between managing your ministry and multiplying it.
There is a big difference between managing your ministry and multiplying it. (Flickr )

There's a big difference between ministry management and ministry multiplication. As a leader, the gravitational pull is always toward the tyranny of the urgent.

It's like a tractor beam pulling us in. Too many leaders get so focused on "What now?" that we can't focus on what's next. We fall into the rut of putting out fires and managing the ministry machine rather than focusing on what could come next for our ministry.

Ministry management is important—just not at the neglect of ministry multiplication. New approaches to ministry, starting new groups, new ministries, new campuses, new sites and new churches are where the real kingdom and church growth will come from. Multiplication is the real key to kingdom and church growth. So how can we get our ministries focused more on multiplication and less on management? Here are a few ideas:

Focus on the Important, Not the Urgent

Are you familiar with the Urgent/Important Matrix? It illustrates where we tend to spend the majority of our time: urgent things that are not the most important things, such as the internet, our email inbox, social media and meetings where nothing really gets done that will bring increase to our ministries.

What's often neglected? The important but not urgent things: daily time alone with God, exercise, personal growth, reading, studying and other key pursuits. No one comes knocking on our door because they've noticed we're neglecting these things. However, they are the most important things.

Every week requires some management of things and people. However, the tail doesn't have to wag the dog. Plan time to work on the ministry, not just in the ministry. Schedule it! Plan time to work and think strategically on the future of the ministry. If you try to wait until "things slow down," that day will never come.

Exercise: Build a new calendar system that blocks off time in advance to work on it, not just in it.

Maintain Smaller Spans of Care

The more people I have reporting to me, the more I end up in management mode. Most organizations are perfectly structured for the results we are getting now. We will stay the same unless we structure for growth. We need to structure our time so that managing people and relationships doesn't eat up all of our time and mental energy. When we spend every waking moment wrestling with all of the people tensions and HR dilemmas, we spend our best mental energy on management instead of multiplication.

Exercise: Take out your organizational chart. Who's overseeing more than five to seven people? Just know that they (or you) will primarily be managing people rather than developing them. Do-ers add. Developers multiply.

Be Careful With New Hires

Don't hire someone new just because they will make your life or someone else's life or ministry more manageable. When you make a new hire, ask yourself: How will this person help our ministry multiply? How will this person help us more effectively reach more people? Will we be simply adding staff or multiplying our impact? Only hire a new staff person to manage something if that person is going to free us up to think multiplication more. Then we had better be disciplined enough to do it. If the new person is managing, and we fall back into management mode, then once again, no one is envisioning the future, and we haven't gained anything by hiring someone.

Exercise: Take your org chart again. How many people are focused on management, and how many are focused on taking new ground for the kingdom and the church? Then place the word "manage" or "multiply" by each staff person. We simply need a good mixture of both. Commit to free up someone now to focus more on multiplying impact and growth!

Shawn Lovejoy's heart is coaching leaders, pastoring pastors and helping them all conquer what keeps them up at night. Shawn previously served as Founding and Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church and Directional Leader of Now Shawn has devoted himself full-time to pastors and leaders. He is the author of The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors, and Be Mean (About the Vision): Preserving and Protecting What Matters. Learn more about Shawn at

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