How to say no to ministry

One of the more difficult tasks to accomplish in leadership is to relentlessly guard the vision of the organization. As they grow organizations, including churches, naturally drift towards complexity. People have good ideas that require action, development, project management, resource allocation, and organization that at surface level seem to enhance and strengthen the organization. These structures, while well meaning, often times actually slow down, detract from, and often prevent the organization from moving forward. I’m not saying that systems are the enemy, however the worship of systems. Remember systems aren’t the vision, the vision is the vision, and effective systems simply become the pathway for the organization to easily move along towards the vision. The single greatest word you can ever use to relentlessly guard the vision is to learn to say no to what detracts from it.

Below are 5 evaluative questions designed to help you narrow the focus and say no to opportunities that will cause you to subtly drift away from the vision.

1. Does it get you to the Vision?

Everyone has ideas and opportunities will always come your way. The difficulty is sometimes identifying which ones detract from and which ones align with the vision of the organization. This is a great question to start with. If the idea or opportunity doesn’t get you to the vision than say no immediately. By the way, the clearer the vision, the easier it is to say no…or yes!

2. Is it a Destination or a Pathway?

Does this opportunity create movement and lead people closer to the vision or is it a component that is being added on to the organization to seemingly enhance it? Pathways create movement and energy. Destinations create stagnation.

3. Is it Measurable?

If this idea or opportunity were successful what would it look like? Can that success be measured and evaluated? One of the keys to staying on mission is relentless evaluation.

4. Does it Create Competing Systems & Sideways Energy?

Would saying yes to this opportunity create “nuanced redundancy?” Even if it’s new is it set up to compete with another endeavor within the organization? There are times competition can be healthy. But there is a difference between competition that drives performance and competing systems that cannibalize the resources of the organization and become a limiting factor to success.

5. Is it Reproducible?

If you can’t do it in another location, you’ve got to ask yourself if you should be doing it in your current location.


What questions do you ask that help you say no to what may detract from the mission?

Posted in Leadership

3 Responses to “How to say no to ministry”

  1. Tim Parker June 27, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    I believe what you think about most dominates your desires. If the dominant thought is the vision God has placed on your heart, then that is a reason to consider saying yes …. if not, then no.

    Thanks for the Blogs and God Bless My Friend smile

  2. Dave Shrein August 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Maybe you could also add does it fit the personality of the church? But I think what you’ve listed is great!

  3. Eric January 30, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    I seem to be at the ground level of #4 & #5 a lot lately.

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