The most effective ministry leaders I know spend most of their time with their congregation’s pioneers. Pastor, ask your pioneers about their passions for the things God has laid on your heart. Listen for alignment between your vision and theirs, your heart and theirs, your passions and theirs. This area of overlap is where you and they get to play!

Pray with them. Dream with them. If your hope is to touch the unchurched, envision the kinds of impact you’d most want to have on the lives of those you serve you’ll serve. Imagine yourselves serving authentically, regularly, and generously for their benefit.

Do some planning and strategizing, but please don’t get a brain cramp trying to figure it all out in advance. Excessively planning for ministry is an almost irresistible temptation for church people. Don’t waste your vigor over-planning in the comfort of your church conference room.

Quick, before you lose your nerve, get out of the church and begin to bless people. Thrust yourself into action with your pioneers. Get off the property. Meet with civic leaders. Learn where your congregation can help, where you can make a God-honoring difference, and go after it. Love people. Serve them.

For Heaven’s sake, experiment. Incubate.

Pilot. Test. Adjust.

Go-again, fearlessly and flexibly.

When what you try doesn’t work—do something else.

Do anything else.

Let these be rich times of learning and of enjoying the adventure together.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


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