I recently had a conversation with a ministry where I asked what was truly "core" and "central" to what they did? They looked at me with confusion and said "everything." So I went at it a different way and asked, "If you had half of the money you now have, what ministries would stay and which would go?" Their answer to that question got them on the road to identifying what was truly core and central and what was in fact ancillary.
Scarce resources are often the thing that force us to make the choice between core and ancillary. When you have to choose you have to make decisions as to what is truly central and what is not.
Here is the truth. For most ministries, there are core and ancillary sub ministries. Knowing the difference is critical because the majority of your time, energy and budget should be focused on the core, not the ancillary. Furthermore, you need to know what is core and central and what is nice but non-essential.
One of Steve Job's upsides as a leader is that when he returned to Apple for the second time, he helped them focus on a few core products and shed what was ancillary. He knew that the organization could not deliver excellence over a broad number of products. He ruthlessly shut down what was not central and they focused on the few products that have made Apple a very wealthy company today.
Ministries pick up all sorts of ancillary activities like a duster picks up dust. New stuff sticks all the time, often diminishing the core ministries as energy and focus is spread ever thinner. Disciplined organizations are very clear about what is core and central and they resist the temptation to add new and novel ministries that might be good for someone but are not core for them.
Here are some important questions to be able to answer with your ministry team:
1. What is central and core to what we do and what is ancillary?
2. Do the central and core ministries get the energy, focus and resources they should get?
3. Are there ancillary ministries that are diminishing our attention to the core ministries?
4. Do we need to refocus around our core ministries and shed what is ancillary?