3 Things Barn Raising Teaches Us About Doing Ministry

barn raising

Barn raising commonly took place in early rural America, when neighbors, families, and friends joined together to build a barn in one day. This fun event was almost like a party– a break from everyone’s regular daily routine. Typically the barn raising began with a breakfast together, during which everyone shared the great anticipation of what they planned to accomplish.

After breakfast, work commenced. Everyone had a role to play. Grandma might take care of the little children. Older children had assignments like gathering loose nails or carrying water to the workers. Teens and adults brought supplies, nailed or sawed boards, or supervised the construction– according to their skills. Together, they raised the barn in one day.

Then the people celebrated with dancing and an evening meal together… something that had also been worked on all day.

The barn raising illustrates three important phases of doing ministry: anticipation, performance, and celebration.

  • Anticipation is the preparation for the project. This is the planning phase, which organizes the project, obtains goal ownership, gathers resources, generates enthusiasm, and provides time to pray.
  • Performance is the execution of the project. This phase raises the barn, leads the worship service, conducts the small group gathering, teaches the class, or servese the neighborhood.
  • Celebration is the follow-up on the project. During this phase the people rejoice, relax, enjoy the benefits of a job well done, and praise God together.

Wherever we stand in ministry, we are in one of these three phases– and we need a regular rotation of all three. The type of feedback you give people depends on which phase you’re currently in: preparing feedback, supervisory feedback, or reinforcing feedback. Think through what kind communication you need to be giving right now. And don’t skip the celebration!

Note: I adapted this blog entry from my old, out-of-print book Leading and Managing Your Church. You can get it dirt cheap on Amazon if you’d like a copy. Lots of very practical ministry advice.