The Ministry Equivalent of Ford Making Ventilators

When the COVID-19 hit, much of our economy came to a screeching halt. While some industries have prospered, most have struggled. Due to the uncertainty of the coming months, Ford did something unexpected: they started making ventilators. When Henry Ford started the company back in 1903, he wasn’t anticipating an assembly line churning out ventilators, yet that is the reality now. Why?

When times are unpredictable, the organizations that succeed are the ones who learn to adapt.

Every organization has gotten over the first rush of craziness due to the pandemic. As the dust settles and things come into focus, we are still unsure how long the actual virus, the accompanying fear, and the financial fallout will effect the cultural landscape.

I am a pastor. We adapted well during the first two months and did what we had to do. We are now looking at a bare summer calendar compared to usual activities. Mission trips, outreach events, and summer camps are all being altered or canceled.

What Options Do We Have?

What does that mean? A lot of our resources – buildings, budgets, and bodies – will not be needed in the same way we had planned.

What are our options?

  1. Be busy yet aimless
  2. Wait around until normalcy returns
  3. Adapt strategically

Here’s what I know. Every person on your ministry staff has a title, job description, education, set of skills, and a list of experiences. Yet much of those things seem to be irrelevant when we can’t do the expected.

Many people in ministry have been hired for tasks that they cannot do right now.

To be good stewards of the personnel budget entrusted to us by our churches, we must get creative. I told our staff that we will each be asked to do things in the future that we were not hired to do. Why? Because we want to be a people zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).

What Can We Do?

Determine how much margin your staff has in the current situation and fill the time with meaningful tasks.

Get your staff together. Acknowledge verbally what everyone knows. While we were busy during the scramble, we probably have some margin now. We want to alleviate that and be responsible.

If you are in a healthy financial position, assure everyone that their job is secure, but you want to be able to speak with integrity about what everyone is doing in this season. If someone was hired to make ministry widgets and there are no ministry widgets to make, we must make something else during this season.

I provided our staff with an ideal weekly calendar template and a task evaluation form. As they turn them in, we can determine where the margin is and how we can best use their extra time right now.

If there is a margin in a staff member’s time, assign them meaningful ministry tasks that help make disciples.

Realize this though: the meaningful ministry assignments might be clerical work, manual labor, member connections, missional outreach, or repeated tasks. They may not all be exciting, but you must assign some importance to it.

Are all of those “meaningful ministry assignments?” Yes. Ministry is in both the proclamation and the preparation. If I am supposed to preach at an event, is driving the car to the location considered ministry? I will not get to preach there if I don’t drive there first.

If ministry proclamation is difficult now, focus on ministry preparation.

Some of those tasks may be for the present and some might be preparing for the future. Regardless of what any staff person is hired to do, it is wise stewardship to give people tangible tasks to keep moving the ball down the field.

Where Do We Start?

  1. Determine your staff’s margin for the summer’s 10 weeks
  2. Prioritize items to accomplish during the timeframe (they might be random items that have been put off for years or desired for some time)
  3. Assign tasks to people who have the margin to tackle some of these projects
  4. Create deadlines by which to work
  5. Keep everyone communicating and accountable

This summer is not a time for a ministry pause but a ministry reset. If you can’t make cars, crank out some ventilators.

Think strategically about what you can do with who you have, and do not waste this opportunity.