Mark Beeson on History and Success

In the July/August edition of Good News Magazine (GNM), Mark Beeson was interviewed for a cover story. He had such great answers, I thought it was a shame that so few people would have a chance to read them. So over the next few days, I'll re-run the Q&A in my blog. Here are the first two questions:

GNM: What specifically sparked the vision to plant Granger Community Church?

Mark Beeson: Though we [United Methodists] had not planted a new congregation in North Indiana for more than three decades, irrefutable evidence from the Church across America convinced me that new ministries attract new people. If our UMC continued working strategies that didn’t work — let’s agree that decades of unrelenting decline in the UMC’s missional impact, worship attendance, social services and fiscal power could be defined as “not working” — our market share would dissolve. Our witness to the saving power of our Lord would become vacuous, even perceived as tripe.

So, as the grandson of a Methodist preacher and a life-long member of this great denomination, I found myself unwilling to go quietly into the night. God birthed in me a vision for new ministry, in a new place, with new people. That vision is as bright today as it was more than twenty years ago.

Good News: After twenty years of growth, what are the key ingredients to see a ministry expand?

Mark Beeson:

Agree on the definition of success. Clarity of vision, and the metrics defining progress and mission parameters, will enable your team to pull together for the preferred future you have in mind. Be clear and write it down. People will not rally to an uncertain trumpet.

Never pay people to be Christians. The church is filled with servants of Christ; some are unpaid and others are paid. Only pay for high-capacity teammates who deliver more than they take. Your paid staff must add value and demonstrate the loyalty, ability, chemistry and desire to take your ministry to the next level.

Get feedback. Hard data matters. Soft-sided information helps when your team has the emotional intelligence to weigh the implications of deep sentiment. Growing leaders know, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Don’t just guess; know the condition of your flock.

Be willing to correct and redirect. Every person operating outside of their shape reduces efficiencies, inhibits innovation and degrades morale. If you have the right people on the bus, make sure you get each one into the right seat for them…and for you! Sometimes that translates into helping them get on another bus altogether.

Sprint, rest. Sprint, rest. Sprint, rest. Ministry is not a marathon. It is a series of sprints. Get a strangle-hold on the experiences, people and locations that renew you. Maximize your restoration opportunities. Stay fresh or you will rust out, flame out or drop out…and if you are out, you are out, no matter how you went out.

Clearly define the “what” and let your leaders determine the “how”. You will develop innovative thinkers and success oriented leaders if you bless them with the freedom to develop strategies and structures for their ministry success. Empowering your leaders will enrich your future. Vested leaders who feel ownership of the agreed upon vision will be as committed as you. Let your leaders lead, and every time they succeed recognize their efforts, celebrate their success and publicly praise them.

Tim StevensComment