About four years ago, I had my first traffic accident. The accident wasn’t even my fault. I was rear-ended coming out of a Walgreens. As I pulled into a parking lot, my mind was scrambling. No one was hurt. Check. Wait, what was it that I was supposed to do next?

  • Get name, phone number and address
  • Get license plate and make/model and color of the car
  • Get insurance information
  • Take picture of damage

The person didn’t have her drivers license, but I got to take a picture of her military ID. When I called the insurance company later, it turns out that she wasn’t the owner of the car and the phone number she gave me wasn’t right. Everything worked out fine, but I was frustrated that she’d been untruthful with her information. I had an idea that I would try the next time I was in an accident, which actually happened only a year later.

This time, I took a picture of my drivers license and insurance information and told the other person that I would just text her the information. This time I knew I had a working phone number. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the car/damage and her license plate. I couldn’t even remember what color her car was. I quickly realized that I wasn’t very good at this. Accidents don’t happen very often, but when they do, you have about 15 minutes to do several important things. Why should we depend on our memory for situations like these? Now I have a list that lives in my glovebox. I’m ready the next time I’m in an accident.

It’s amazing how often we make mistakes, right? We’re super smart people, but we skip over important steps.

  • We burn the cookies
  • We forget the anniversary
  • We leave our toothbrush at home when traveling

Shouldn’t we be beyond this kind of stuff? Yet still we make mistakes.

Think out the context of our ministries. Forget all the mistakes that we’re prone to make and multiply that by the dozens or hundreds of volunteers we lead.

  • We run out of check-in labels in the middle of services
  • An important slide doesn’t get loaded in the presentation
  • A baby doesn’t get a bottle as expected
  • The check-in computers aren’t on when parents start arriving
  • The toys aren’t cleaned/sanitized at the end of the service

We get frustrated when people don’t do what they’re supposed to do. We think, “Honestly, it’s not that hard? Why can’t they remember to do this thing every week?” Many of us experience this ALL THE TIME.

We point to several issues:

  • A lack of training
  • Poor communication
  • Laziness

But what if it really isn’t any of these things? What if we could significantly eliminate all the mistakes with a checklist?

Seriously, a checklist.

Studies show that you can improve your results without increasing skill by simply implementing a checklist.

Just a checklist.

Next week we’re beginning an exhaustive series dedicated to the checklist. Stay tuned…


This post is part of a larger series on moving your ministry forward using the often neglected tool - the checklist. In this series, we unpack how a system of checklists can actually help us take our ministry to new levels. Plus, we want to share dozens of actual ministry checklists you and your team can implement right away. Click on the link below to explore this topic and pick up some helpful resources!