• The Most Important Distinction to Live By: Ministry Means vs.Ministry Ends


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If you aren’t clear on your ministry ends you will always measure your ministry means. Think about it. If it’s easy to confuse ends and means than this becomes the most important distinction to lead by. I hate to break it to you as ministry leaders, but leading in the church is the MOST difficult environment to maintain this clarity.

How can immediately know where you stand with this distinction? If you don’t have clear language for both ministry means and ministry ends, you will necessarily be measuring means only.

For example, a ministry means is a small group. If your church has small groups you will have some language for this environment— home teams, life groups, etc. Ministry ends, on the other hand, is what that small group should produce, or facilitate or aim at in the life of an individual. Do your group leaders know the ministry ends for a small group?

  • Have you every clarified your ministry ends as a church?
  • What kind of disciple is your church designed to produce?
  • Have you ever measured anything other than attendance and giving?
  • What are the God results and spiritual output that you are really after?
  • Do you think attendance alone is an adequate way to assess the accomplishment of the mission?

There is actually an entire world of articulating and living into ministry ends. It’s the most freeing thing a ministry leader can ever experience. Do you stop measuring means? Of course not. You still count how many people you have in groups. But you count other stuff as well. You count…

  • How many 2:00am friends people have?
  • How many people have experienced meaningful accountability?
  • How many leaders have mentored other leaders?
  • Who in your life has “refrigerator rights?”
  • The confidence level of sharing the gospel?
  • How many people have crossed a cultural boundary for Jesus?
  • The level fulfillment of being a missionary in the workplace?

Lead with the end in mind.

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Lynn Lamberty
    We measure means because they are the easiest and least subjective to measure. Measuring the ends requires a lot of anecdotal information that is harder to have confidence in. I think the ends you identify are more accurate means of evaluating the effectiveness of ministry, but I just don't know how to be sure we are getting there.
  • jim mcfarland
    another way to compare are process goals vs. results goals. The main area for believers to control are the process goals. God will handle the results. it only takes a spark to get a fire going. make sparks - fire is the result
  • Shirley Geisler
    I appreciated reading this article. It gives a lot to think about. And is perhaps a reason some churches are simply maintaining the status quo and not growing in "number" (Number has to be one way of measuring) and maturity. I was reading Lynn's comment below and understand what she means about the list you wrote. However "the ends" do not have to use anecdotal information if they are measurable goals that stretch each ministry to go beyond.

    I agree with the premise of the article. I wonder if ministry leaders set measurable goals each year for their ministry - if an Adult Sunday School class would choose a community ministry in which to volunteer; if the choir would set a goal of one outreach effort through music; if the Women's and Men's Ministry would support a conference designed to focus on leadership. Those types of goals are measurable and are serve to progress toward an end result of not only making a difference in the world, but the hearts and minds of those involved. The ministries are becoming involved in something more than maintaining that which they are already involved. This requires good leadership at a pastoral/staff level that helps ministry leaders understand the "ends" and work to set goals to reach those ends.
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Will Mancini
Will Mancini emerged from the trenches of local church leadership to found Auxano, a first-of-kind consulting ministry that focuses on vision clarity. As a “clarity evangelist,” Will has served as vision architect for hundreds of churches across the country including the leading churches within Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and non-denominational settings.
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