Mission and Multiplication Requires Margin
Margin is defined as an amount by which a thing is won or falls short. And margin creates opportunities.
In sports – “We’re winning by a 25 point margin, so we can allow our substitute players to get playing time.”
In business – “Our sales have created a substantial margin this month, so we can afford to take a few advertising risks if we want.”
In church, margin can be more than enough money, more than enough volunteers, more than enough space to take risk and expand into a new area of ministry.
Multiplication requires margin. That’s the problem. Most churches today have little margin. We have too little or just enough money, volunteers, and space in the calendar, leaving very little for risk or new mission and ministry ventures.
It has gotten harder to create margin. Building and staff expenses have increased. People are harder to reach today than ever before. People are giving less to churches than ever before. People have less time, or believe that they do, than ever before. Churches must work harder and get creative in building, protecting, and strategically utilizing the margins for the growth of God’s kingdom.
“I just don’t have enough _____ to get involved in church planting right now.” He’s right. The margin for the multiplication of ministry is diminished for most churches.
How can we create margin?
- Assess ministries to determine their effectiveness and work to eliminate those that are no longer fruitful. This could create some margin and momentum for other areas.
- Look for margin that may be unrecognized. Can you duplicate a ministry that your are preparing already into another sphere. Example: One church does VBS at their location, then at local private daycare’s. That’s multiplication, that took little extra prep by volunteers.
- Take an assessment of the amount of time people spend on ministry inside the church. If its more than 12-15 hours, its probably cutting into the time they have for ministry in the neighborhood, marketplace, or community. People work 40 hours per week and probably have another 10-12 to volunteer. Explore ways to help people put ministry and volunteer hours toward the unchurched around them. This is the least common denominator of kingdom growth. This is the path to margin for our churches.
- Assess empty space around you. Most communities have lots of empty space that can be used for ministry. Instead of always thinking about building new (which almost always robs us of margin, or will in the future), consider ministries that may can fit empty space around you. Example: I visited one church that turned neighboring empty buildings into ministry space, saving the church a ton of money in new construction costs and building good will in the community by sparing potential blighted property.
- Margins are created by healthy growth, facilitated by healthy systems. Consider working on strengthening the systems of your church. Check out this Systems Analysis Tool to get started.
If multiplication is desired, margin should be on your mind as a ministry leader.
What other ways can we create margin for ministry, missions, and multiplication?
- Is your church creating margin through healthy growth of disciples?
- What are you planning for future margins?
- What is the thing keeping you from having margin for multiplication and ministry right now?
- What are of your ministry has the most margin right now? How can you multiply it?
- Do people have enough margin in their life to perform the least common denominator of kingdom growth – Gospel Sharing with Friends and neighbors?