Does everyone on your team know where you’re going?  Do they all know what you’re trying to do?  What business you’re in?  If they were asked what the focus of your organization is, would their individual answers have a lot in common?  Or would it be obvious that it’s every man for himself?  Do you really have more of the energy of a carnival and less of the impact of a movement?  Carnivals and street fairs are fun…but there’s not a lot of impact going on there.  I think most of us dream of a movement and having impact.  But lots of us end up with carnivals.  Lots of booths…but no impact.

Another way to look at it is this:  Is what you’re doing so cluttered that no one can really see the most important part of it?  Kind of a "where’s waldo" approach to your mission.

I’m finding Simple Church to be a really helpful companion to The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry.  This is a fabulous book!  One of the great lines so far is this one from Hans Hofmann:

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."

Of course, I actually prefer the authors’ interpretation of the line: "If you want the necessary to stand out, you have to get rid of the unnecessary."  That is a huge line.  Imagine the implications of that concept.

First, you’ve got to know what the necessary is.  And it’s going to be some hard work to drill down to that.  Think mission.  What business are you really in?  For some of us it is "what business do we dream of being in?"  But to get rid of the unnecessary we’ve got to figure out what is the truly essential stuff that is right at the core of our business.  For example, at SeaCoast Grace it’s about helping people experience God and change.  So we’re asking, "what are the essential ingredients that produce change?"  Once we determine what those ingredients are, everything that’s not that is part of the carnival.  Once we determine the necessary it will become much easier to recognize the unnecessary.

Which leads to the second thing you’ve got to do: Get rid of the unnecessary!  And now we’ve gone to meddlin’.  If driling down to the essential is hard…closing down the carnival is painful.  But if we want to have impact…closing down the carnival is at the heart of what must happen.

What about you?  Are you part of a carnival?  Or a movement?

Allowing the Necessary to Speak