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Overlapping Ministries

We have a theory that we are currently looking to test at Springfield. We believe that churches can grow most effectively when they build expertise in an area and intentionally create overlapping ministries which you can invite people to.

Overlapping ministries occur where two or more ministries share a natural connection on account of the shared interests/needs of those attending. For example a set of people attending a Toddler Group may well be interested in a Messy Church, especially if they have some older children. There is an overlap without total convergence. This enables us to invite people who are interested in one thing to other things – the “if you like this… you may love that…” approach . When you see that church is more than a toddler group and start building strong trusting relationships in a variety of contexts then you can start to see the value of church as a whole.

Looking back at some of the great ministries that we have had at Springfield over the years and seeing that some of the most isolated ones (where there wasn’t much overlap) were the ones that eventually fizzled out helped our thinking. On the other hand we also saw that those areas where we were strong were ones where people had multipleopportunities to connect with the church.

Overlapping Ministries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think that there are a number of reasons why overlapping ministries appear to work best and can help grow the church:

1. Expertise and experience. When you have overlapping ministries you have a core of expertise and experience that you can call on. If you run a toddler group you find it much easier to run Messy Church and the people running Messy Church feel more confident that it can work.

2. Pool of interested people. It gives you a ready pool of people that may well be interested in your ministry as they have already shown an interest in a related ministry. If you do one thing well then people are more likely to give a related ministry a chance, thus growing their relationship with people in the church. If they like your luncheon club for the elderly they may love a scrabble club.

3. Relationship and trust. Most people need time and a number of strong relationships within a variety of contexts to make the big decision to come to church. If they only go to a toddler group they may be grateful for the toddler group and love it but they won’t necessarily see why they need something more. But if they love the toddler group wouldn’t it be great if there was something else that you could invite them to that there was a realistic chance that they would come to? One family who joined stated that it was about 4-6 different ministries and events that helped them build relationships that allowed them to overcome their doubts to join.

4. Time and space. If someone only goes to something once a month then it is difficult to build strong relationships and levels of trust (especially when there will be times that they can’t make it). Multiple ministries help these relationships to grow and strengthen over time because they create more opportunities for connection.

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5. New Ministries. As you grow it allows you to build new ministries in new areas. We have found that people joining the church have brought their gifts and helped build new overlapping ministries in new areas with great results. A couple of people joined Springfield who had a heart for the elderly. We have now grown a set of events and ministries that have helped reach out to the elderly (even though we have traditionally been weak in this area) with great success.


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