Multiplication Center

Starting With Why: Getting More Traction in Your Ministry

October 28, 2012

How important is your church’s mission? Who even remembers what the mission is? How do you know if your mission is the “right” mission?

A couple weeks ago Leadership Network convened the first Marriage Ministry InnovationLab, consisting of seven churches with an average weekly attendance of 3,500. Each of these churches had a fairly robust marriage ministry. But participation in what they offered was much less than what it could be. Each of the participating churches faced a similar dilemma; How does one get more people involved in what they are doing and get the support of senior leadership? Leaders who lead any of the ministries of the church, be it marriage ministry, men’s ministry, community ministry, missions, etc. are passionate people who feel that what they are doing is central to what God wants done in the world. And it is hard to argue against the case that the best way to build a family is to build into the stability and longevity of marriage. It’s hard to argue against “the mission of the church is missions,” or “as goes the man, so goes the family.” Every ministry leader has his or her passionate evidence for the centrality of what they do. By the way, I think that’s part of our Ephesians 2:10 calling—that we think what we are doing is closest to the heart of God. After all, no one would like to think they are doing the 5th best thing. So after the request of more “up-front” time is rebuffed by the lead pastor or elders, the ministry leader concludes, “Our pastor just doesn’t get it, or he’s against marriage (or whatever) ministry.”

So being leaders we do the best within our bailiwick by creating our own ministry’s mission, vision, values and purpose for our particular ministry. “The mission of the marriage ministry is to prepare, strengthen, blah, blah, blah….” Problem is, by having your own mission, purpose, etc, you will probably become increasingly siloed in what you do? Instead, what if you aligned what you do and how you do it under the big WHY of the church—your church’s mission? We get this insight from Simon Sinek and his book, Start With Why ( ). (To get a feel for his message watch his TED video at ).

So sticking with our marriage ministry example:

  • What we do: Prepare couples for marriage, Establish couples in their marriage, Enrich marriages, Restore broken marriages
  • How we do it: Various programs / materials we use
  • Why we do it: This is what you tie to the mission (the WHY) of the church, not the mission or (WHY) of your particular ministry

Here’s why this is important:

  • Any expenditure of time and resources that does not go towards fulfilling the mission of the organization is, by definition, a waste of resources. So it’s to your advantage to tie what you do to the overall mission of the church
  • If you are tying what you are doing, and how you are doing it to fulfillment of the overall mission of the church you are solving a problem for the lead team rather than creating a problem for the lead team.

So, let’s say the mission of your church is “To make disciples.” The closer you are able to define what you do and how you do it against this big “why” of the church the more ministry traction you will have.

Here’s how it might work out:
“What is it that you do?”
“We make disciples”
“I thought you were the Marriage Ministry Pastor?”
“I am. But we’ve discovered that there is no more fertile environment for making disciples—helping people learn to love God and love others, than in the context of marriage. After all Jesus said it was through loving well that all people would recognize us as his disciples. Marriage is the smallest level of granularity in relationships. If love doesn’t work here, love is not going to work anywhere. However if love is working in marriage, it can go anywhere in the world. Yep…we are making disciples.”
“Wow! I never thought of it that way.”

At the beginning of this post I asked the question, “How do you know your mission is the “right” mission? Two simple criteria would be:

  • How close is your mission to the mission Jesus gave us to do (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, etc)?
  • Can every ministry leader align what they do and how they do it under the mission statement? Remember, every use of resources that does not go towards fulfilling the mission is a waste of resources.  The more squishy, vague, and non specific your church’s ministry statement is, the more latitude the ministry leaders will have just to do their own thing.


Give it a try: Sketch out the WHAT, HOW, WHAT circles. Write down what you do and how you do it. How does it help fulfill the mission of your church, business, or organization?

At Leadership Network we are committed to helping churches get get better at what God has called them to do….connecting the “Whats” to the “Whys”…helping turn ideas to innovation for increased impact. Go to to get started.

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