1% faster is the difference between being first at the Tour de France and 76th. That’s a big difference. A small increment can change a lot of things.
From 1945 to 1954 the world record for running one mile was 4 minutes and 1 second. It seems impossible until Roger Bannister decided it was not! He got specially designed lighter shoes, he started training in a number of different ways, and he broke the 4 minute mile in 1954. Within six weeks, several others had managed it. You see when you speed things up, others are inspired and challenged by that!
Now what does that mean for your church – if you could do twenty things in your church or ministry (or business) 1% better, your whole church would be 20% better. A small increment can change everything, a small step forward can be a giant leap forward!
Two years ago Google changed the shade of their toolbar to a shade that was fractionally lighter, but it increased how many people clicked and it increased their income significantly. A minor change can have a big effect. We are living in a generation where we want to have grand, dramatic gestures that play out on Facebook and Instagram and get views, but really what we need is to just increase our pace slightly, and move slightly faster, and inspire our people to do it. Greg Mohr stopped calling visitors to his church “visitors” and started calling them “guests”. That is a minor change, it takes very little effort to start that change and have your team of ushers and leaders do that – but it meant a lot more people who came to his church stayed and were discipled. A small change often is more achieveable and more fruitful than a grand gesture.
Success in life is not linear. You get 1% more excitement, you get a lot more than 1% more results. Interest is compounded over time! Growth will always in ministry start off slower than you want, but over time if you keep setting the right pace, it will be more growth than you expected or dreamed of (Ephesians 3.20 is still true!). Making a small change is less exciting than winning the lottery or being the next GOD TV sensation, but it is what is going to produce lasting fruit, sustainable fruit and help your people think and grow and be discipled.
I am currently planting churches far sooner than most people think it should be done. There are recommendations on the size of the mother church, and so on, but the way I am doing it, all of our people from the early days of Tree of Life have experience of a family of churches, going to conferences together, sharing pastors and leadership, sharing wisdom, praying for each other. That has been invaluable over lockdown but it is invaluable at any time. That is the power of small increments, small steps forward. Now to do this you need discipline, you need to be making disciples, you need to be raising up people who will say “guests” rather than “visitor”, you do not need ushers who are going to say what they like when they like. You need people who see the bigger picture.
You will also need a lot of patience. Dyson made 5126 vacuum cleaners that did not work. It was model 5127 that worked and made him a multi-millionaire. Persistence and patience are what win! Model those values yourself and impart them to your leaders and you will be able to say “hey, we can change this part of our ministry” – we can do this slightly better – make the changes and watch the growth explode!