7 Holes that Can Swallow Ministry

I have four earned degrees and my toughest by far was an industrial engineering degree from Ga Tech. That degree taught me to think systematically. In addition, I’ve added to my competency tool box many books on church planning plus two churches where I’ve served have engaged in year-long visioning processes with church consultants. So, I’m well versed and trained in the church visioning/planning process. But  Will Mancini‘s seminal book on the subject, Church Unique-How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement has opened my eyes to vision clarity. From his book I learned 7 holes that can swallow any ministry.

In chapter one in a section called “Lost on the Way to Your Own DNA,” he lists subtle thinking patterns that can suffocate vibrant thinking. He coins these patterns or holes, ‘thinkholes.’

I’ve listed them here with brief definitions.

  1. The ministry treadmill: busyness eliminates time for reflection…leads to just adding more programs.
  2. The competency trap: presumption that past methods will continue to work decreases appetite for learning…leads to just working harder.
  3. The needs based slippery slope: consumerism removes the need for discernment…leads to trying to make people happy.
  4. The cultural whirlpool 1: BuzzChurch-innovation short circuits self-awareness…leads to just trying to be cutting edge.
  5. The cultural whirlpool 2: StuckChurch-change outpaces the discipline for learning…leads to glorifying the past.
  6. The conference maze: success increases the temptation to copycat…leads to just modeling best practices.
  7. The denominational rut: resources disregard local uniqueness…leads to just protecting theology.

At times I’ve been caught up in these ‘thinkholes.’

How about you?

Do you agree that these issues can hinder effective ministry? What has helped you overcome them?

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3 thoughts on “7 Holes that Can Swallow Ministry”

  1. My husband and I learned early in ministry that the Conference maze is a huge ‘thinkhole’ that will suffocate creative thinking for your particular church community. After understudying the largest church in the world at the time, we came to the conclusion that what was best for our church, was what God’s heart was for our church and not what another church is doing. This means we had to do the prayer, seeking God and the painful birthing process of creating a particular DNA. Just modeling best practices could create a fake church culture, that is seasonal only and not for the long term.

    1. I agree with just implementing what a conference espouses blindl can be detrimental, but I find conferences good for sparking creative ideas that I can later reflect on and pray about.

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