Principle 3: We engage in ministry frequently, preferring regular activity and connection with people to large, occasional events.
ROMI = Return on
Businesses often talk about their ROI or “return on investment.” In ministry, we sometimes talk about ROMI or “return on ministry investment.” By “return,” we mean the value a ministry activity provides either in accomplishing a specific mission or helping people grow in their walk with Christ.
Considering the ROMI can help when comparing two ministries and choosing where to invest resources like money, time, and personnel. There are many different methods and models for ministry, so it’s helpful to have some metrics when choosing what to keep and what to cut.
Big Event Ministry
Impact Over Time
Some churches pursue a “bigger is better” approach. This is because big events make a big splash. They seem to have a larger ROMI in the short-term. The trade-off is that these larger events must happen less frequently because of the production time involved. They are also usually less personal, less relational, and less “sticky.” In other words, a response to a large event is often short-lived.
Small Frequent Ministry
Impact Over Time
Another approach is to prioritize smaller, less obvious activities that are more frequent. While these don’t provide the big splash effect of a large event, they are much more sticky in their impact.
Ministering to people in smaller, more frequent ways has many benefits:
- Providing consistency
Engagement happens monthly, weekly, or more often.
- Enhancing relationship-building
Regular interaction builds a personal connection.
- Promoting discipleship
The time that would have gone toward producing a big event can be invested in developing another person.
- Leading to authenticity
Frequent interaction builds trust and breaks down walls.
- Multiplying impact
People can more readily observe, learn, and replicate smaller ministry activities than large events.
Unlike large events, small but frequent ministry activities lead to a long and growing ROMI.
Small and Frequent
Big and Infrequent
Unfortunately, smaller and more personal ministry is much less visible, especially when we tend to look at only short-term results.
Large events are like a massive ship. They make a lot of waves for a brief time and then they are gone. Small ministry interactions are like an iceberg. They may look insignificant from the surface, but their potential is enormous and their impact is here to stay.
I’m not suggesting churches cancel every large event. They serve some great purposes and can have a substantial impact provided the church has the foundation to make the impact stick. Foundational ministry is small, frequent, intentional, consistent, and relational.
This is the bread and butter of ministry. It’s how pastors impact key leaders and develop new ones. It’s what makes volunteers feel loved and appreciated. It’s how people learn to walk with Christ consistently by seeing it modeled in other believers daily lives.
Big events have their place but are most effective when built on the foundation of a relationally engaged ministry. Small but frequent ministry engagement must already be part of a church’s culture and DNA for big occasional events to lead to lasting ROMI.
Too many churches find themselves holding onto big events that no longer accomplish their original purpose (or perhaps never did). In these cases, it’s best to sunset those activities and focus on building the foundation before considering whether to launch or re-launch a large event.