When playing the board game RISK, always…always…take Australia first. Then, hold it. Then, take one or two more countries per turn from there. Then get a card. You’ll win the game every time.

But, it begins with Australia.

Why? It’s easy to take, easy to hold, and a guaranteed two armies for the rest of the game. The next time you play, do it. You’ll win.

Take Australia first. Hold it throughout the game, and it’ll be infinitely easier to take other parts of the world. While I wouldn’t normally use a board game aimed at world domination as an illustration for how to do ministry…hear me out.

There are certain “Australias” in church growth and health. These are things that will keep you in the game if you do little else. These “Australias” allow you to take other risks, to do ministry in successfully over the long-haul. Without them, it is nearly impossible to win the prize. What are they? Well, let’s play a game. Below I’ve listed 6 “continents”—things most thriving, healthy churches I’m familiar with possess. Can you guess which is Australia?

*Vibrant weekend services with great preaching and passionate worship.

*An unusually talented and hard-working staff who loves one another and is one the same page.

*A passion for lost people and growth that pulsates throughout the culture of the church—to the point all ministry is shaped around it.

*Palpable spiritual fire both in the church and their gatherings strong enough it is observable to “outsiders.”

*Unified leadership who believe completely in God’s activity through the church and are willing to give themselves to it fully, in unity.

*Vision (a preferred picture of the future) that is clear, compelling, and shared with such passion it is nearly irresistible.

So which is Australia?

Whichever one you want it to be. But, take it, hold it, and work out from there. It may take a while to work your way across the board, but you will be well on your way to winning the prize.