Galvin and Associates

Posts Tagged "Excellence"

Most outstanding ministries have an intentional and written commitment to excellence. Excellent ministries tend to attract more loyal donors, retain quality staff, and see more ministry results.

A commitment to ministry excellence, however, carries the seeds for its own demise. It can blind you to new trends in your relevant environment. It can make your team internally-focused instead of externally-focused. It can convince you that if you just pedal faster the organization can succeed.

This is counter-intuitive. Most of us would want to be a part of an excellent congregation over a sub-par one. Most of us would want to volunteer in a service opportunity that was run with excellence rather than one that was in perpetual disarray. But without keeping an eye toward effectiveness, a commitment to excellence can lead us astray.

Consider the award-winning preschool in a small city with a weak economy. Their enrollment is down 80%, yet they keep offering the same half-day classes and three-day-a-week schedule as when they opened 40 years ago. A telephone survey showed that what the community needed was daycare 5 days a week. The director simply said, “Daycare is not good for children developmentally. We focus on providing an educational environment of the highest quality. Mothers should stay at home with their young children.”

Consider the denominational camp struggling to get members to sign up for a family camp that used to be a highlight of the summer and sold out months in advance. The director said, “We use to fill this place with families, high school youth, and young adults from all over the Midwest and West. In fact, it was one of the best places to meet your future spouse. The harder we focus on better social activities the less people come.”

Consider the Bible quizzing ministry that, while hugely successful in the 1960’s, responded to dwindling interest by investing in a large scoreboard, lights, sound, and t-shirts for each team. The leaders were working hard at improving quality. “We just want to preserve this ministry that was so helpful to us growing up and to pass it on to the next generation.”

Sometimes you have to stop doing the thing you do really well and start doing something that you do not as well but might be more effective.

If you want to explore this further, I wrote an article recently for Excelerate magazine titled Avoiding the Downside of Excellence. You can download a free copy here.

In your organization, where might your commitment to excellence be blinding everyone to the need to adjust course due to changing conditions in your ministry context?