Engineered Ministry

Written by Operations Director Marla Hansen

In the years before joining the staff of Mission Adelante, I enjoyed a career as a manufacturing engineer.  My job was to improve the production and bottom line of the factories I worked in.  Throughout my career this ranged from factories that made anything from mailboxes to nuclear control valves.  My specific area of expertise was in the implementation of something called Lean Manufacturing and in Constraint Theory.  Basically both these ideas are based on the concept that individual efficiency is not always the answer, and can actually make both your production and your bottom line worse.  In brief this is how it works: when you first begin to work with a process, the first thing you do is just watch.  Take time to understand each step of the process, the equipment involved, the people involved, and the output capabilities at that step.  Constraint theory will lead you to identify your bottlenecks (the processes that can’t keep up) and you then focus your resources on improving them.  Lean Manufacturing will lead you to remove any waste (excess work) out of those bottlenecks.  It can be very counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.  In some cases you would actually be better off to pay workers to go home than to have them keep producing faster than the bottleneck process can keep up. 

As I have spent the last year being a part of Mission Adelante, I have come to realize that ministry done well works in pretty much the same way.  Jesus said himself, “the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few”.  It’s incredibly important to use resources strategically in order to make the biggest kingdom impact.  I have watched the leadership and ministry staff at Mission Adelante do much the same in the neighborhood as I did in the factory with one important difference:  where my job in factories was to get to know the processes and look for the bottleneck, the Mission Adelante staff gets to know the neighborhood and looks for where God is at work.  From there out, it’s really the same thing.  In manufacturing you subordinate your resources to the bottleneck whereas in ministry you submit your resources to God’s plan; both will allow you to be the most productive whether you are trying to produce mailboxes or Kingdom fruit.  And just like Lean Manufacturing, applying resource to the wrong place can be completely ineffective – regardless of the intention or hard work of any individual.  If it isn’t God’s will, you’d be better off sitting at home.   

So other than being interesting to nerdy types like myself what is the point of this comparison, you might ask?  Well I think there are two:
  1. If you’ve ever wondered if the time, talent or financial donation you share with Mission Adelante is being used in the most effective way, this engineer’s opinion is: Absolutely. 
  2.  If you’ve ever thought that maybe your talents don’t really fit any ministry role, ask God to show you differently and watch expectantly for Him to show you the answer.  This article narrates the answer I received when I asked that question.
In other news:
  • Drew Hammond, Bhutanese Outreach Intern, visited Xenos Christian Fellowship the weekend before last in Columbus, Ohio.  Like Kansas City, KS, Columbus is a resettlement location for Bhutanese refugees, and like Mission Adelante, Xenos is actively reaching out to their population to demonstrate the love of Christ.  Drew enjoyed conversing with Xenos leadership and meeting Bhutanese believers, including a young man who is one of the only believers in his family. Drew was able to encourage him with the news that there are many believers in Kansas City that share his last name!
  • It's really exciting to see the enthusiasm of people that are new to reading the Bible! The Latino teens are learning about the various spiritual gifts, and thereby finding very clear application of scripture to their lives. The Bhutanese kids are reading through the narrative contained in Genesis week by week, and are simply captivated by it.
Prayer needs:
  • Please pray for a family that has been away from our community for a period of time to begin coming to our church gatherings again, which they expressed interest in doing.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to provide Molly Merrick with guidance and wisdom as she mentors two pre-teen girls.
Current needs:
  • A 3- or 4-drawer locking filing cabinet with keys
  • A preschooler sized table and chairs or picnic table
  • A small computer desk or computer table to create an additional workspace in our offices.
  • New vacuums or repair for our broken vacuums
  • Men's and kids' winter clothing to make available through our resource center.
Upcoming dates:
  • Summer Internship Application Deadline--Wednesday, February 15: Our summer internship combines practical missions experience in an urban context with mentoring and seminars on key topics relevant to ministry. This opportunity is perfect for the college or post-college person who is exploring a potential call to missions or urban ministry.  The internship lasts from May 26 until August 12.  To fill out the our interest form go to You'll also find an attachment there with all the details.
  • Observation Days: Tuesday, February 21 (Bhutanese)/Thursday, February 23 (Latino) 6:30-8:30  Have you wondered what all goes on around here on a typical evening of programming?  Here's your opportunity to come and see for yourself!  If these dates don't work for you, please contact to schedule an alternate evening.
  • Adelante Missions Institute Seminar: Saturday, June 30 at 9:00  We're pleased to announce that Noel Castellanos, CEO of Christian Community Development Association, will visit Kansas City at the end of June.  Mark your calendar!