5 Ways That Plug-n-Playing Another Church’s Ministry Model Will Cost You Ministry Progress

At Auxano, we believe that local churches are unmistakably unique and incomparably different. God doesn’t mass-produce His church.

When you try to “plug-n-play” another church’s ministry model, it is going to cost you ministry progress in one or more of these 5 ways:

#1 Secondary Passion Every ministry model was originally designed to bring a deeply desired result or solve an emotionally disconcerting problem.  The key dynamic here is the passion at the point of origination that “fuels” the model. If you utilize a model that you don’t develop, the enthusiasm behind it is often less. The passion is derivative and a generation removed from the model itself. Whoever is running Andy Stanley or Mike Breen’s model will not likely embody their passion.

#2 Underutilized Strengths Every ministry model has strengths and limitations. So does your congregation. If you plug-n-play another model you probably won’t optimizing the unique strengths, assets, congregational heritage, leadership learnings and Spirit-led passions of your ministry. For example Andy Stanley’s three-step strategy or Mike Breen’s ideal size for a missional community have certain alignment features with local strengths.

#3 Cultural Disconnect Every ministry model is contextualized for some group of people. Within the model are core assumptions about people, embedded language and values about how to best engage and organize and teach and train and practice the myriad of one-another commands of Scripture. If you cut-n-paste a ministry model you risk a disconnect on all kinds of levels. Some might be big and obvious. Others— and most of them—are small and nuanced. For example, when my friend Vince Antonucci planted a church on the Las Vegas strip, he could not rely on the “attractional pull” of an Andy Stanley’s worship service model or the “extended family” assumptions of Mike Breen’s model. Due to the overt sexuality on the Vegas strip and the skepticism of meeting in people’s homes, the primary environment  for Verve Church is gender-based small groups that meet in public “third spaces.”

#4 Less Satisfaction It never ceases to amaze me how much people love designing their own ministry model. (When someone can show them how.) It’s more of a job than a joy when you are running someone else’s playbook. Every time. The bottom line is that photocopying another church’s model of ministry is much less enjoyable and exciting. There is a much deeper sense of “call satisfaction” and freedom to “be who you are” when you design your own. And progress is always an immediate result when you do. You don’t work for Andy Stanley or Mike Breen. You work for the same God that called them and led them to design their own model. God will do the same for you.

#5 Faulty Measurement Every ministry model, when operating well, will have clear input and outputs (means vs. ends).  For example, Andy Stanley’s strategy has environment “inputs” and faith catalyst “outputs.” Mike Breen has ministry vehicle “inputs” and life shape “outputs.” Effective discipleship takes place when leaders are focused on the outputs in way that frees them to adjust the inputs. But when you borrow a ministry model, it is much easier to focus only on the inputs. The reason for this is twofold. First, in the desire to get the same attendance results of the ministry being copied, there is more of a preoccupation of “the how.” Second, “the how” or the methodology itself is much more “concrete” and measurable that the output of the methodology. Hence we tend to measure how many people “attend” what we are doing than the results that are coming from the attendance. Model makers are not as inclined to disconnect the means verses the ends of their model. As one famous Christian educator said, “Beware of the ends-means inversion in ministry.”

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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