What is a sustainable capacity? And how can you build one in and for your ministry?

Consider with a three-legged stool (pictured above). If you remove one leg of this stool, the whole stool will be unbalanced and unable to bear any weight without tipping or collapsing. Even if one leg is weak, the others will suffer as well. And no matter how nice the seat is, if the stool is missing one or more legs, it is not nearly as comfortable or practical.

Now does this apply to ministry? Let’s imagine that each leg represents a major and necessary category for building a sustainable capacity in ministry (both yours and ours): Strategy, Staffing, and Support (Funding).

Strategy: This is the area of having a plan and working out the plan. globalLead has great materials, well-formulated plans, and relationships with key leaders who are excited to receive and multiply our training.

Staffing: globalLead has some very, very talented staff. We have people doing incredible work on three continents and leaders and volunteer trainers from over 50 different countries. We have good staff on the field and in the international office!

Support/Funding: We have incredibly generous people around us, especially those in the USA, who have given for years upon years. Many have sacrificed to give extra for projects. In addition, we have incredible church partners who believe in what we do and back us up with resources, not just rhetoric.

With these three legs of the mission joined together, we can have an incredibly strong base. But the capacity of the seat is only as strong as the weakest leg.

What if…?

What if we had all the funding we needed with willing and able staff/volunteers, but utilized no strategy?

We would be wandering in circles with no actionable plan!

If we had all the funding we needed and a necessary and proven strategy, but no capable, passionate staff:

We’d have no muscle and engagement to execute God’s mission.

And if we had an incredible staff, many volunteers, and a strategy, but little or no support/funding, then…

We would constantly run into obstacles that greatly restricted the scope and future of our work.

sustainable capacity venn diagram

But it’s more than that. Is it enough to only fill in the gaps where we are lacking? Is this all we need: More funding? More staff? Better strategy?

Having a balanced three-legged stool may ease some tension and allow you to sit and accomplish some of your vision. But, it may not have the necessary capacity, and it may not be sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Consider Capacity.

A stool can only hold so much weight, right? If you are a heavier person, this is something you need to consider before placing the entirety of your weight on the stool. And indeed, in the same way, we must consider the capacity of our life and ministry to do the mission. 

You might be a light person sitting on the stool, but, if someone hands you multiple concrete blocks, the stool could still collapse.

The question at hand is this:

Are you sitting on a smaller capacity stool while building a larger capacity one to handle your future growth?

Consider Sustainability.

What is your three-legged stool made out of? Will it last and multiply?

In your ministry, you should wisely manage the materials and models that are utilized.

Your team should be able to grow together and multiply your mission (mostly) independent of your own work. Sure, the directors may be there to help, and provide ideas, strategies, and resources. But they need to own the idea.

Ministry is a shared investment. If one person paid for everything, the work would not be sustainable without them. If there is no consideration of budgets and future developments, there may be no space into which the ministry can grow. And a ministry that stops growing dies.

A sustainable ministry lives beyond your own investment and lifetime.

It would be nice to have an easy solution: “Commit to these things for 10 days, and your ministry will have sustainable capacity and you can move forward.” But that is not a reality. However, it is critically important to collaborate on these things with your ministry team. Start some initial discussions. This is a necessary and healthy dialogue for the future of your ministry.

We, as leaders, need to consider these facts in the mission we are entrenched in, whatever that is. We know our goals, and we pursue our passions. But for us to do our work well, we must consider the underlying foundations of the organization. We must develop a strong, growing foundation. This will allow numerical and spiritual growth in the next 5 years, the next decade, throughout our lifetime, and beyond. Consider these thoughts with the rest of your team so you can learn from one another, develop a sustainable capacity in your ministry, and do effective Kingdom work.