4 Church Leadership Lessons Learned From Playing Risk

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I am a geek. I freely admit it. I once tried to conceal it, but over years I have learned to love being quirky.

Strategy games are a component of my inner geek. The biggest being the classic Risk. With my iPad, I can play risk anywhere. Let’s just say I go through phases of playing enough risk I could be considered a digital Douglas MacArthur.

I have found several leadership lessons from Risk I think speak volumes about church leadership. I want to share them with you.

1. Have a plan
Starting a game of Risk without a strategy never ends well.  Players are scattered throughout the map at first, and to truly succeed you need to have an idea of where you are strong, weak and where your greatest possibilities lie. You need to figure this out quick.

Many churches struggle with size. Size matters and affects many different variables. What I have seen the most are churches just big enough to be dangerous. These churches are resourced enough for ministry to be scattered among different groups of people and organizations.  The problem lies in the area of possessing a unique sense of vision and mission appropriate to your context.

This leads us to our next lesson

2. TAKE AUSTRALIA
Within your first few games of Risk you learn how valuable this continent can be. It is easily defended, with only one way in and out. It only has a few territories, so it can easily be taken. Australia gives you access to more energy very quickly and it can be relied upon when things get tense.

The distinct vision of the local church will be your Australia. It can be counted on for energy. It gives you a home base where everything else can revolve around. When times of redirection are needed, having a known sense of mission and vision provide a safe foundation.

3. Don’t abandon movement
A newbie mistake in Risk happens often when making quick gains and abandoning the territories allowing you to move in and out of continents. The wise player will keep a few armies there in case one needs to come back or another player tries to move in. Sometimes this also manifests itself in strategic build up. You might not be planning movement using that territory during the current turn, but you know you will in an upcoming turn.

In the local church, we hopefully will always be growing in mission. It is important though to look at sustainability, especially in volunteer leadership. Always have people on deck to step in for a season if necessary. Likewise, if you are able to start a presence in an area you anticipate future ministry, it would be wise to think about keeping some energy there until it can become a focus point. Two important concepts to always be aware of are intentional and sustainable.

4. Use your cards wisely
In Risk, you are given a card at every turn you conquer a territory. These can be saved and turned in for more armies. You can either be an erratic player with no idea when and how these are coming or you can plan for it and have a strategy ready.

Anyone in Church leadership should be looking ahead. How can we best anticipate where we think future movement and ministry might happen? Have the conversations with people that will help you know who might be able to help with something before it even happens. Make sure to have plans for energy use and use it wisely.

I was surprised to see how much Risk taught me. What of these helps did you find the most surprising?