In ministry, there are always challenges. What ministry leaders need to worry about is not the rising issues, but the temptation to respond to the issues with yesterday’s logic (Ashley & Morrison, 1995). As ministry leaders, we need to hold tightly to the principles of Christ and the foundations we find in scripture, but we must be cautious we don’t hold tightly to ministry models and practices that have become ineffective and irrelevant to reaching new people.
Discovering new ministry methods can be difficult since we don’t always know what is going to work, if the investment of resources is going to be worth it, and if we will lose people along the way. This anxiety causes too many of us to shy away from anticipatory management principles that will give clarity as we position ourselves to minister to the changing communities around us. As society changes in a complex and rapid way, being anticipatory and gaining strategic advantage requires sophisticated intelligence-gathering techniques, new models of decision-making, and ways to judge the results (Ashley & Morrison, 1997). We must embrace leadership styles outside of top down which places importance on centralizing power, we must collaborate with our staff members and congregants instead of dictating mandates, and we must embrace the technological advances and social norms that are a part of the life of modern families.
An issue brief is one tool that allows this to happen. An issues brief provides the background, driving forces, future prospects, and implications of a given social trend (Ashley & Morrison, 1995). It explores the issues from several angles and then focuses on how it will impact the church’s effectiveness or that of a given ministry. By using an issue brief, churches plan for change instead of reacting to change.
What trends will impact ministry in the near future?
Ashley, W. C., & Morrison, J. L. (1995). Anticipatory management: 10 power tools for achieving excellence into the 21st century. Leesburg, Va.: IAP.
Ashley, W. C., & Morrison, J. L. (1997). Anticipatory Management: Tools for Better Decision Making. The Futurist, 31(iss. 5), 47–50.