Have you ever read a book that summarized some really important leadership and ministry practices in simple and memorable ways that continued to impact your thinking years later? It’s been over six years since I got my hands on a great book that summarized a lot of what I had learned in my Organizational Leadership and my Practical Ministry studies: 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. I actually read it after completing most of my studies and thought to myself, “I could have saved a bunch of money on graduate school if I would have just read this book!”  Have you read it? What did you think?

In it Andy Stanley takes some more complicated concepts and puts them in ways that are easy to understand, communicate, and apply no matter what your context or the size of your church. This is something that really helped our leadership team talk through things in the early stages as a church plant and it continues to help shape some of our conversations.

I recommend this book to you if you are in ministry leadership. You may also find it helpful to go through this with your leadership team and apply this to every level of leadership. Hopefully these practices are as thought provoking and challenging to you as they are to me. Here are some main points from the book:


Practice #1 – Clarify the Win: Define what is important at every level of the organization.

  • As long as the win in unclear, you force your team to guess at what a win looks like.
  • If the win is unclear, you may force those in leadership roles to define winning in their own terms.
  • When you clarify the win on every level you help your team stay on the same page.
  • When you clarify the win you can manage your resources effectively.

Practice #2 – Think Steps, not Programs: Before you start anything, make sure it takes you where you need to go.

  • Every step should be easy
  • Every step has to be obvious
  • Every step must be strategic

Practice #3 – Narrow the Focus: Do fewer things in order to make a greater impact.

  • Churches feel constant pressure to provide programs on the basis of needs.
  • Resist complexity and pursue simplicity.
  • Choose what potentially works best over what is presently working.
  • The more you focus the environment, the greater the relevance, the better the connection, the higher the quality, and the stronger the impact.

Practice #4 – Teach Less for More: Say only what you need to say to the people who need to hear it.

  • Decide what you are going to say.
  • Decide to say one thing at a time.
  • Decide how you are going to say it.
  • Say it over and over again.

Practice #5 – Listen to Outsiders: Focus on who you’re trying to reach, not who you’re trying to keep (we really miss the boat the on this one sometimes).

Practice #6 – Replace Yourself: Learn to hand off what you do.

  • Prepare someone to do what you do and strategically replace yourself.

Practice #7 – Work On It: Take time to evaluate your work and to celebrate your wins.


Have you read this book? Are there other leadership or ministry books that have helped you evaluate some of your ministry practices?


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