One of my favorite shows on TV is Shark Tank, on ABC. The gist of the show is entrepreneurs and inventors pitch ideas to a panel of investors and, if they like the ideas presented, they will give them a load of money to help them take them to the next level. The inventions presented have been ideas ranging from a truck bed air mattress, a toilet seat for cats (with a cat potty training DVD included), to a guy who will draw you a picture of a cat for $10 (www.IWantToDrawACatForYou.com). Some of the ideas on the show have made me say to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!?” The difference between the people on the show and myself is that they had an idea, saw an opportunity, and took full advantage of it.
In ministry, when we have an idea, we must be on the lookout for opportunities to put these ideas into action. Some of these opportunities may come in the form of seasons. For instance, summer can be a great time to plan a lot of high-impact children’s events because they are out of school and families are looking for fun things to do. A specific need within your community or church could also pose as a great opportunity. A community event could give your church a great outreach opportunity. There are many opportunities out there; you just have to be on the lookout for them.
One thing to be careful of, when looking for these opportunities, is trying to copy someone else’s success. Books and conferences can give you great idea starters when you hear or read of other people’s successes. You must take those ideas and use them to spur your creativity, rather than using them as a cookie cutter model to begin a program or event that may not even fit into your church’s culture or context.
If you think you may be ready to capitalize on a potential opportunity, here are some areas to think about:
– Knowledge (Do we know how to do this?)
– Momentum (How does the atmosphere of the organization feel?)
– Timing (Is this the right time for this?)
– Support (Do we have the support needed for this to succeed?)
– Culture (Does this idea fit the people we are trying to reach?)
One of the greatest failures I experienced was when I planned a parent meeting for the children’s ministry in my church. I had bought sandwich trays for the event and had developed a lot of activities for us to do during it. However, the timing was TERRIBLE. I scheduled the meeting for a day when most of the parents already had plans. Only myself and one parent showed up. Had I done the proper research and thought about the timing, I would have planned it for a different day and possibly had success instead of failure.
On the other hand, one of the largest successes that I remember was when we planned a fall festival for our church. Our church had not had a fall festival for several years and we didn’t want it to be a typical fall festival (with hay bales and corn stalks). We made it messy, crazy, and fun and because the timing was perfect and it fit our culture, hundreds of people attended and the event was a great success.
Think about a time when you either took full advantage of an opportunity that came your way, or pulled the trigger on an idea during a time that an opportunity really didn’t exist. Share your success or failure below in the comment section and let others learn from you!