Creating a Culture of Excellence in Ministry

This week is Vacation Bible School at Sugar Creek, where I serve, so apologies for the late posting.

Out of the many conversations that can had with staff members, one of the critical ones which seems to filter down to every level concerns excellence. In creating activities, environments, and ministry most growing churches talk about creating these things with excellence. For many ministry leaders, excellence is a mark to which we push our staff members.

Yet we’ve all had that moment where we realize that not everyone defines excellence the same way.

During my time in the business school of my undergrad studies, we talked about organizational and personal excellence. There was a constant drum being beaten by our professors and deans of “Be excellent as we are excellent!” (Kind of a business take on Leviticus 19:2.) The drum also was carried through at the mother church of the university where we were given examples of ministries and ministers doing excellent things. One of the principal textbooks that we had in more than one class was Tom Peter’s landmark In Search of Excellence. Back in 1982, Peter’s wrote this book based on his consulting experience where he boiled down successful companies into 8 core themes. Though the reports of him “faking the data” are greatly exaggerated, one of my takeaways from the book had to do with the intentionality of excellence.

We most often see truly excellent experiences from people who have the dedication of intentionality and professional acumen of experience to produce high quality (not inherently high cost) moments.

In ministry, the mark of excellence is often adjusted differently between departments and even between people. Excellence isn’t a virtue of the same distinction.

However, for senior leaders in ministry, the task is to recognize and validate excellent experiences and bring our staff along to see and taste what is truly excellent. It is hard for anyone who has only had access to Waffle House to describe the entire experience of eating a Ruth’s Chris steak. So to show our staff members what excellence looks like will often help them meet that qualification in their ministries. This requires the intentionality and willingness of ministry leaders to find these experiences and take their staff out to them.

For excellence to be a shared value across the board in our staff, our staff need to share the example of excellence.

What makes one event excellent and another mediocre is often only a set of relatively minor adjustments, but it is a world of difference. Those adjustments take experience and exposure. When our staff gets them and implements them celebrations are necessary. Creating a culture of excellence in ministry is key for any church or ministry. It allows us to validate the involvement of our people. It allows them to see that we are being effective stewards. It makes our church and ministry better.