The term "scope creep" is a term consultants use when their clients expect more than what the project originally outlined. The idea is that the scope of the project is slowing getting bigger, usually in imperceptible increments. Of course, no consultant wants scope creep to happen, but in an effort to please the client, its hard to prevent sometimes.
The same dynamic is ever present in ministry. It's called "opportunity creep."
What is "opportunity creep?" Its roughly the same idea, just applied to all of the positive ministry opportunities a pastor may face in the days and weeks of church life. By calling it "creep" we are acknowledging that it's all too easy to say yes too much. By positioning this as a problem, we are highlighting that a lack of "opportunity management" can distract and dilute our ministry efforts.
Think about how many kinds of opportunities cross a pastor's path:
- We serve a congregation that's a bottomless well of members' needs.
- We are captured by the buzz of new ideas, new people, and new initiatives happening in church space.
- We live in communities riddled with issues that we would love to "missionally" engage.
- We are digitally connect to an ocean of information and "friends."
The bottom line: church leadership is rich soil for opportunity creep.
I will address opportunity creep with two follow-up posts:
1) The Five Primary Sources of Distraction in Ministry- this is about spotting the creep.
2) Applying Five Filters to Ministry Decision Making- this is about beating the creep.