Published: 10 years ago

When “Yes” Leads To “No”

In a church our size, there are plenty of opportunities to do plenty of things.  Big things.  Small things.  Expensive things.  Free things.  Hard things.  Easy things.  Things, things, and more things…

“Would you partner with our ministry to dig wells in East Africa?”

“Can we pass out brochures for the upcoming volunteer fire department fundraiser?”

“I want to start a ministry for left handed, hazel eyed Libertarians.  Get me started.”

Because of our size, it’s easy to assume we should say “yes” to as many things as possible.  After all, we believe in African wells and volunteer firemen, and lefty Libbies are probably good folk.  But one thing I’ve learned is that too many “yeses” will always lead to “no.”

When the scope of our ministry is unclear, people will be leery to commit.

When the menu of choices is too broad, people simply won’t choose.

When the goals aren’t clearly defined and the “win” is hard to spot, people will get frustrated and jump ship.

For that reason, we’ve said that our purpose is to Love God, Love Each Other, and Love Our World. If a ministry or idea or program can fit under that umbrella, then we’ll likely say “yes.”  But if it muddies the picture…if it clouds the vision…then a “no” is the only reasonable answer we can give.

What are some of your “yeses” that should’ve been a “no”?

  1. B the Builder says:

    Don’t worry… as Summit Facilities Director, I give plenty of “No’s”.
    Can we build a balcony in the Sanctuary of Brier Creek? – um, NO!
    Can we paint the ceiling in the sanctuary black, and get it done between Sundays? Definitely NO.
    Can you change the light bulb in my mini-fridge in my office? Give me access to whatever is in it and we’ll talk…

  2. Zack says:

    This is a great point that many folks seem to resist.

    Another aspect is that in a church culture where there is a ministry for *everything*, people often feel like they *need* to be leading something, or they are less of a christian than the 50% of the church they see in charge of something. But in a culture like that, everybody wants to lead, and nobody wants to follow, and you end up with a bunch of titles and nothing getting done.

    I would much rather follow/serve someone who is going somewhere than lead a one-man parade to nowhere…

  3. Jeremy says:

    One of the things that I was told right after I started school was some guidance on choosing to do or not do things. The speaker mentioned that she used to say “yes” to whatever sounded fine in the order that it came, leading to a first come-first served approach. This may be good for the License Plate Office, but for us (people and churches) with finite time and a limited window of effectiveness, we can’t operate this way.
    I’ve had to put it into practice as I was inundated with opportunities when school started. Life still isn’t perfect, but three months in, I’m happy with the philosophy that I’ve adopted in agreeing to do things…and confident that I can be effective with the things that I am doing.

  4. Aaron Tant says:

    Have you read Charles Arn’s book, How To Start a New Service? Your blog definitely leans in favor of Eric Geiger/Thom Rainer’s Simple Church. I completely agree with what you’re saying… don’t spread your resources too thin… do a few things well, not many things in mediocrity.
    If you’ve read Arn’s book, what do you think of it?

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