Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.
I originally posted this article in January of 2015. Since that time, I’ve returned several times to remind myself of these principles. I’ve also directed many other people to this page and it's one of the ten most visited articles on the site, so I think it’s due for an update.

If you’re a computer programmer, you probably know something about agile software development. (If not, don’t leave just yet!)

Agile development is an effort to value people over processes, results over paperwork, collaboration over negotiation, and making continual improvements along the way.

(See? That's not so bad is it?)

In 2001, a group of computer programmers gathered to codify these ideals into a list of principles called the Agile Manifesto. I’m always looking for helpful insights to improve my ministry effectiveness and the effectiveness of my teams, so I adapted these guidelines to fit our objectives.

You can read the original manifesto here.

Agile for Ministry

  1. Our highest priority is to glorify God by loving Him, interacting with Him, and serving Him.
  2. We welcome changes in ministry practices and plans because we will never reach perfection on this earth. We should always be ready to improve and refine our methods to a better way of doing things.
  3. We engage in ministry frequently, preferring regular activity and connection with people to large, occasional events.
  4. Our ministry staff and volunteers communicate and collaborate regularly on projects.
  5. We build ministries and projects around motivated individuals, give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. We believe the most effective method of conveying negative information is a face-to-face conversation.
  7. Spiritual formation is our primary measure of progress.
  8. We believe agile processes promote sustainable ministry, not burnout. Staff and volunteers should be able to maintain a constant ministry pace indefinitely.
  9. We believe continuous attention to excellence and good design enhances the effectiveness of ministry.
  10. We strive for simplicity, the art of maximizing the amount of work not done. This is essential to prioritizing people over programs.
  11. We believe the best ministries and ministry projects emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. Our ministry teams meet regularly to reflect on how to be more effective, fine tune behavior and evaluate purposes and plans.

What do you think?

Could churches and ministries benefit from implementing these principles?

I find they are very helpful in keeping me focused on the most important things. When I read this list, I reorganize my priorities, cut some secondary objectives, and double down on what really matters. Usually, that means investing more in relationships that develop leaders and allow me to hand off something I would have completed myself.

Over the next several days I’ll post a brief article on each of these principles, how I implement them, and how they make ministry much more effective.