Leading Change
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The Future of Your Ministry is Always on the Fringe

Car off the cliff sign“Core work is always in some sense unprecedented, or else it would not be differentiating”–Geoffrey Moore, Dealing With Darwin

The first goal of any ministry must be to develop a leadership team that is empowered and earnestly seeks to live out your mission, vision, and values. At this early stage of a ministry it’s usually your leaders reaching people highly similar in nature. But as your ministry grows and matures it becomes more and more about reaching people who are increasingly different.

In a college ministry Christian students with leadership aspirations often join first, then Christian students who prefer to follow others, then Christian-cultured students, then those that have had Christian experiences, then non-believers (this is obviously not truly linear and these students enter a ministry at all stages, but I would say the percentage of these students relative to the whole follow a linear progression.)

For a ministry to reach these increasingly different students unprecedented strategies and steps of faith must be taken. A ministry will stagnate when either the strategy or the faith action becomes significantly different from the strategy or faith action that started the ministry. The “core work” that Moore alludes to has to continually evolve to respond to the changing goals of your expanding ministry.

The “fringe” of many ministries include: digital communications, ethnic minorities, impoverished people on the other side of the planet, and disaster stricken people to name a few. Many if not all of these named require radically different strategies and faith steps in order to see significant traction.

Here’s how Moore describes what it takes:

“It requires thinking outside the box. It also implies ongoing iterative experimentation–unprecedented processes that never work right the first time; they almost always require tinkering.”

Does your ministry integrate iterative experimentation? Does it provide space to explore unprecedented processes that never go right the first time? How many people in your ministry enjoy tinkering with strategies and tactics that are out of the box?

These are seriously important questions if your ministry is to thrive in the future.


  1. Brian,

    This is a great post. Have you read “Orbiting the Giant Hairball”? @bvirute suggested it to me. It speaks a lot to the dynamic of how you create space to pursue new strategies when corporate gravity is pulling against you.

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