A five-step countdown that will help keep new programs on course.

As a whole, ministers are rarely accused of not working hard. But I want to make sure I'm also working smart.

When I look at the marketplace, which I often do as a strategist, I see leaders who are forced to work smart because there's a bottom line telling them if their strategies are working. But in the ministry, the bottom line remains more intangible. It's difficult to evaluate how well we're doing, so we tend to work hard and pray hard and trust God that the "bottom line" will turn out to his liking.

I try to work hard, pray diligently, and trust God. But I don't want to spin my wheels using unproductive strategies. So I've learned to be specific about what it is we're trying to accomplish.

For example, I was once part of a fine church youth group. The Bible was taught week by week. The group served at a state hospital and a children's home. We sponsored activities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. There was Wednesday night Bible study and Sunday morning Sunday school. But we averaged ...

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