Have you ever experienced a “solution looking for a problem?”
I love that phrase.
It most commonly looks like a product developed by a company for a customer that doesn’t exist. Not in the Steve Jobs or Apple way. In the legitimate “we spent time and resources creating something that nobody will ever want or need” way.
At times a solution looking for a problem is a strategy or plan for a need that doesn’t exist.
These types of useless solutions are relatively easy to spot.
There is, however, a version of this dilemma that is painfully difficult to identify. If you miss it, the results can be catastrophic. If you allow it to continue, it can be impossible to resolve.
What version are we talking about?
The most difficult “solution looking for a problem” is legitimate a solution to a problem that DID, but no longer, exist.
If you’re a church leader, pay special attention to this version. This last version is what the church experiences all too often.
Too many churches have ministry models beautifully and strategically created for a moment in time that has passed. At the time of creation, the ministry model addressed a specific need. The model was a legitimate solution to a real problem. Yet, as time passed, the issues changed. And as the problems evolved, the necessary solutions changed. This problem evolution demands new solutions.
If your church operates from the same basic ministry model from a decade ago, it’s most likely outdated. Heck, if your church is using your 2019 model, your strategy is outdated.
Outside of the obvious situations (like a ministry model from your parent’s generation), how do you know if your strategy is no longer relevant?
Well, how are your results?
Your church (or organization) is perfectly designed to achieve the results you’re experiencing. If you aren’t seeing growth, odds are your model is behind the times. If you aren’t effectively making disciples, odds are your strategy needs an adjustment. If you are losing leaders — especially younger leaders — there is a good chance a ministry update is warranted.
Determining what to do is secondary to deciding it’s time to do it. The recognition that change is needed is the first decision.
Let me give you some questions to ponder as a team:
- When was your current strategy first instituted?
- What specific changes have been made since this initial installment? The specific changes are necessary to name. It’s too easy to say, “we’ve updated and changed along the way.” But, if your updates are mostly tweaks, you may still have an old model that looks new.
- Are we pleased with our ministry results?
- In our ministry, what must be true a year from now?
- If you were starting over, how would you design the ministry strategy?
- How are newer churches or church plants operating? Where do you see significant differences?
Be honest with your answers. If new churches aren’t starting with your core ministry model, perhaps there is a reason. If other churches are growing or experiencing the results you desire, examine what they are doing.
Realizing your model is outdated is an exercise in humility. If you designed and implemented the model, even more humility is required to admit the gaps.
If I can be honest, I believe (from my experience with many, many church leaders) pride is the primary reason so many churches die or remain significantly underutilized. Great leaders care more about the mission than their personal preferences or pride.
With that in mind, let me offer one more question:
#7: What do you desire to see in and around your church the most?
If your answer is “life change,” then do whatever is required for that to happen. Whatever.
Change your model. Listen to younger leaders. Hire some younger leaders. Hire a consultant with fresh eyes. Interview church planters. Examine what other successful churches are doing. Read books that push your boundaries. Go to a leadership conference hosted by “that” church or denomination that you’re always looked down upon.
Here’s what I know for sure:
- There are problems in your community.
- Some problems are as old as time. Some are new.
- Regardless, evolving cultures need new solutions to both old and new problems.
- Your church can become the solution to these problems.
- Change is required.
- Pride will be your obstacle.
I believe you have what it takes to adjust your solution. I’ve seen many leaders do it. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen many prideful leaders blame the culture, their community, and worldliness. It’s always easier to look through a window and blame others than to look in a mirror and take responsibility.
You can’t spread the gospel in your community if you spend your time blaming your community.
How can I help?
Partnering with ministry and marketplace leaders from innovation through implementation is why I created Transformation Solutions. I’m dedicating my time to helping leaders like you discover potential problems, design strategic solutions, and deliver the preferable future.
Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 15-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.