Have you ever been to a conference or lectureship, only to feel more discouraged when you left than when you arrived? You hear someone speak convincingly about a successful ministry or program in their congregation. You are convinced this could work for you. Then you return home, less than optimistic that you could realize the same results. Wayne Cordeiro (Doing Church as a Team) suggests that when we consider new plans and programs, we take guidance from the words God spoke to Moses as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness and into the Promised Land: Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out (Numbers 10:1-2). God told Moses to make trumpets of silver—but where would former slaves find this precious metal? It’s here that we see God’s ministry strategy.
  1. Begin with what you have. Fortunately, God had already made provision for the Israelites to execute the plan. Exodus 12:36 tells us, “The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” There is always the temptation in ministry to focus on what you don’t have instead of what you have. What is it that God has already placed into your hands? I suggest you start with your greatest resource—people. Most of us have a burning desire for ministry in our hearts, but we have never been encouraged or equipped to pursue our heart’s longing to minister and to serve. Maybe you’ve heard of a concept called Capacity Mapping. This is when a coach looks at the players he has at the beginning of the season and asks, “What are our goals, and what are our current strengths according to those goals?” He then makes a strategic plan to achieve capacity. The question you should be asking in ministry is this: what strengths do we currently have without additional training, resources, and money? What precious commodities can be found within our people? Find a white board. Map your capacity, and you’ll be amazed at what God has already placed into your hands.
  2. Blow a clear trumpet. Notice that God commanded Moses to “make yourself” these trumpets (Num. 10:1). Moses was not to buy them, rent them or borrow them. He was to hammer them out for himself and learn to blow them clearly. These uniquely created trumpets were to be used to call the congregation together. Most of us at one time or another have borrowed trumpets fashioned by others to motivate our people. Remember: only you and those with whom you do ministry can discern the distinct call needed for your ministry and community.  So discuss: what is one unique need within our community that we can begin to serve immediately?
  3. Take back hammering techniques. So, what should we take back from other ministries? Learn principles and new perspectives, but don’t buy ready-made trumpets. It is much better to give your people the permission and protection they need to live out their passions and gather to themselves others to help them make the vision a reality. Brian Sanders writes, “Empowerment is not about giving someone the right to do something; it’s connecting people to the authority they already have from God to live out their calling” (Outreach, March/April 2018, 111). When people are encouraged to create ministry out of their unique calling and talents, the old adage is realized: “People support what they created.” Instead of a top-down approach – “here’s a borrowed program to implement” – why not gather people and ask better questions: “If this church could accomplish three things, what would they be?” Remember: the reason the trumpets of others work so well in their communities is that the leaders have taken the time to hammer them out for themselves. Each of us must do the same. God told Moses, “Make two trumpets.” From the very beginning, Moses had to recruit and train others. Our success as servant-leaders will always be dependent upon gathering other divinely empowered men and women together to engage in the creative work of God. Looking for someone to lead a visioning process for your congregation? Contact us at www.dbministrycoach.com. We have experienced facilitators to help you discover your congregation’s unique gifts and talents. We won’t give you a trumpet; we’ll help you hammer out your own! We offer engaging weekend workshops to help you discern your congregation’s unique path forward.

Linda Albert (author of Cooperative Discipline) is a leading educator who works internationally with teachers and parents. As a classroom teacher, she became convinced that students’ behavior – and misbehavior – results in a large part from their attempts to meet certain needs. She had contributed the concepts of the Three C’s to help students and teachers work more productively together.
  1. CAPABLE. By motivating students to believe that they are capable of completing an assignment or control their personal behavior, students adapt and perform better in and out of the classroom. They feel capable when teachers help them grow forward from their mistakes.
  2. CONNECT. Students need to feel they belong in the classroom. They need to feel secure, welcomed and valued. Effective teachers make themselves available to students by sharing time and energy with them, listening to what they say, and engaging in thoughtful, personal conversation.
  3. CONTRIBUTE. Great teachers encourage students to contribute not only in their classrooms but in the school and community. Each student needs to know, “You are uniquely gifted to offer something positive to the world we live in.
I suggest that the Three C’s are beneficial for much more than the classroom. In a way, they describe all that is healthy about a church culture. So what might these means for what we believe about those we serve?
  1. We believe that people are capable. Jesus modeled this by spending time with his disciples. He helped ordinary fishermen believe that they were capable of so much more. He said to Andrew’s brother who was brought to him, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)” (John 1:42). He always seems to have a “you are/you will be” for those who followed him. Because Jesus believed in what they could become, they put down their nets and followed him. They went out and “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). And when it came to mistakes, Jesus helped people move from their failures to a future with new possibilities: “Go and sin no more,” “Feed my sheep,” “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Surely “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pe. 4:8).
  2. We believe that God wants us to connect with one another deeply. It’s amazing to me that we can sit together in rows for years and never really know each other. However, our relationships with one another in the body of Christ should be marked by closeness and intimacy. Alicia Chole cautions, “We can easily fall into thinking that transferring truth leads to transformation. It seems easier to give someone an outline than an hour, a well-worn book than a window into our humanity. How easy it is to substitute informing people for investing in people.” In our church ladies’ class, we recently had a visitor who said, “I’m not sure this is the place for me – I have a lot I’m working through.” To which one of the ladies replied, “This is a place where you can share what you think.” She was overwhelmed that a group of ladies cared enough about her to welcome her thoughts and struggles.
  3. We believe that each person has a contribution to make to the church and the world. To put it another way, I have a friend who says that in the church, “everyone needs a job, and everyone needs a friend.” People need to be helped to believe that they have something to offer, no matter how small the contribution. Whether it’s leading a prayer, making coffee, or handing out a bulletin, everyone needs something they are called to do. And when they serve, we need to remember to say “thank you.” Fran Tarkenton, former Minnesota Vikings quarterback, once called a play that required him to block onrushing tacklers. The team was behind and a surprise play was needed. Fran went in to block, the runner scored a touchdown and the Vikings won the game. Watching game film with the team the next day, he expected a pat on the back for what he’d done, yet it never came. After the meeting, Fran approached coach Bud Grant and asked, “You saw my block, didn’t you coach? How come you didn’t say anything about it?” Grant replied, “Sure, I saw the block. But you’re always working hard out there. I figured I didn’t have to tell you.” “Well,” Fran replied, “If you ever want me to block again, you do!” So who needs encouragement? Everybody! “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Prov. 16:24). At dbministrycoach, we specialize in helping people build deeper, more meaningful connections. Talk to us about a workshop to help you build a stronger community culture.

It plays itself out over and over again in our congregations: there is a disagreement, friction between the two parties intensifies; a series of hurtful exchanges follow; both sides dig in; finally someone or some group demands the other person’s removal or they threaten to walk out themselves. Can you identify? Instead of working through our problems, we have a tendency as human beings to become polarized in conflict. Edwin Friedman in Generation to Generation remarks: “What creates polarization is not the actual content of the issue on which a family ‘splits.’ It is rather emotional processes that foster conflict of wills (efforts to convert one another). To the extent that a leader can contain his or her reactiveness to the reactivity of followers . . . intensity begins to wane, and polarization . . . is less likely to be the result.” Unfortunately, the goal in many conflicts is to win, where one party swims and the other sinks. In the words of Peter Steinke, “Conflict is no longer a time for learning but for conquering.” According to Steinke (Congregational Leadership for Anxious Times), the following behaviors are manifest in competitive conflict:
  • People function at the level of their primitive brain, breaking everything into this or that, black or white, plus or minus categories.
  • Passion knocks reason out of the picture.
  • Behaviors become more aggressive – shouting down the opposite side, using face-to-face tactics, belittling them.
  • Lying increases, taking many forms—half truths, withholding information, inflating claims, fabricating events, releasing publically that which should be private, double talk.
  • Self-righteousness emerges. One party thinks he can use any means to achieve his end because his cause is “right.”
So what is the answer? First, understand that a conflict free environment is  not the goal, nor is it realistic. Friends and spouses have conflict. Congregations and ministers have conflict. Perhaps we would do well to take our cues from Paul and Barnabas, two ministry partners who struggled with a difference of opinion. In Acts 15:36-40 we see two great men embroiled in conflict over whether they should take a young intern on their journey. I encourage you to read the brief account, and consider the following principles:
  1. Disagreements are inevitable, even among gifted leaders. In every disagreement, there is one issue, but several viewpoints. There is always something to be learned, just as there is something to be said. In a disagreement, each side has validity (think both/and, not either/or). The wise Solomon gives us good counsel here: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Prov. 18:2). “Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it” (Prov. 16:22). When disagreements arise, work hard to see the other person’s point of view.
  2. Problems can become opportunities through the grace of God. Because of this conflict, we now have not one, but two missionary teams: Team 1: Paul and Silas, and Team 2: Barnabas and Mark. Someone said that if we can have more ministry teams, we need to have more conflicts. When both sides have validity, seek a wise compromise.
  3. When you disagree, the destruction of another’s reputation is not an option. Though these men disagreed, there is no indication that they tried to destroy the reputation of the other. Today we still give Barnabas Awards at banquets, and we name our sons Paul. When conflict persists, care enough to work it through rather than walk out.
Nelson Mandela wisely observed, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
  • Need help with ministry or staff conflict? Let our team of professional consultants work with you for a day or a weekend. We routinely work with elderships and staff members to tackle some of the challenges of ministry. www.dbministrycoach.com

In his recent book, Entre Leadership, Dave Ramsey shares 20 years of practical leadership wisdom. Since a major part of a healthy organization is a unified team, leaders must be diligent to keep the five enemies of unity away from the door.
  1. Poor Communication. Winning organizations have a culture of communication, but if the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, you have disunity and frustration. Effective leaders let people know what’s going on, good or bad. They don’t leave people to guess what is happening in the congregation. They give people accurate, open and honest information. When negative information is held too closely, people usually figure it out anyway (or they assume things that aren’t true.). These become false narratives within the congregation, and leaders usually take the greatest hit. The answer is to communicate well, good or bad.
  2. Lack of Shared Purpose. Lack of shared purpose causes a disunity, but shared goals create unity. Effective leaders gather people to dream and create together. They ask for input, honor the ideas of others, and communicate a sense of team.  The 2004 USA basketball team was loaded with NBA all-stars, but failed to win an Olympic gold medal that year. How did that happen? John Wooden offered this explanation: “The U.S. sent great players; the opposition sent great teams.”  A friend of mine suggests that you should never leave a meeting without answering two questions: “What’s most important right now?” and “Who’s doing what?” Without a common goal there is no unity.
  3. Gossip. It is impossible to have unity where gossip abounds. “The very nature of gossip is the opposite of unity. Instead of pulling people together, gossip pushes them apart,” Dave says. In their organization, they hate gossip so much that its’ a fireable offense. Gossip “has the power to divide and destroy everything you have built.” The wise Solomon gives some good counsel: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” Remember: “Gossip is anything negative said to anyone who can’t fix it.”
  4. Unresolved Disagreements. Disagreements are inevitable where people work together, yet it’s often the case that we bury the hatchet and leave the handle sticking out so we can pick it up later. Unresolved, disagreements paralyze organizations and churches, and the festering begins. It is the job of leaders to act quickly and decisively when conflict arises. Leadership is a series of difficult conversations. Leaders have conversations, non-leaders don’t. They confront what everyone else knows. Jesus counsels, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary” (Matthew 5:25).
  5. Sanctioned Incompetence. We must be careful not to sacrifice the good of the body because of an unwillingness to have the hard conversation with a staff or ministry leader who is ineffective in his or her responsibility. When we overlook incompetence, the entire organization becomes disengaged and people are demotivated. Dave says, “If you want a fabulously unified team and all the good stuff that brings, you will have to work unbelievably hard to avoid sanctioned incompetence.”

Five football coaches were recently interviewed on the SEC Network and were asked how the game has changed. Each talked about the speed of the game, the no huddle and spread offense. Nick Saban was on the panel and commented, “Last year our defense ran 178 more plays than we did the year before because offenses are so fast now.” He said, “I would love to keep it like it was but the game has changed. Today’s pace is more exciting and the spectators like it better.” From a change perspective, consider this: there are still four quarters, a field goal counts three points, there is still a 100-yard field, and an offense must gain ten yards to get a first down. These are the facts of the game, the non-negotiables. But what are the negotiables? A coach certainly has the option to adapt or continue to play “old school football.” To do so, however, risks the loss of recruits in the short run, and losing success and momentum in the long term. As church leaders, change is all about us, but here’s what we often do in response to change. We say, “You have to have three backs in the backfield or you’re not scripturally in line.” And when you’ve played football one way all of your life—or done church one way–you can be resistant to any kind change. Change, however, whether in football or in leading a congregation, is a constant. Traditionally, Nick Saban has always had great defenses and a great running game. He could refuse to adapt and say, “At Alabama, we’re going to continue doing what tradition dictates.” But that’s not the path he has chosen. Last year Alabama had the highest scoring year ever because he said, “I want to be effective at the game.” So the question that we must always be asking is this: what are the non-negotiables of the game – the fundamentals, the 3 point field goal and the 10 yard first down – and what are the matters around us that must change and flex so that we remain relevant. This is the task of leaders – to navigate change wisely and live in tension with truth and change, to make the conversation a blessing and not a burden, to engage with our culture and do something creatively where God can work in our midst without us ever departing from biblical values. There is nothing wrong with change; your congregation is going to change. Rather than being paranoid, get ahead of change by keeping the main thing the main thing. Then let God work through creative leadership conversations to consider ways to reach those who don’t yet know Christ. Questions for reflection:
  1. What are the non-negotiables?
  2. What are the areas where we must flex and change to be an effective witness to our age?
  3. What assurances are needed in order to make these transitions?
  4. What are the risks involved in being unwilling to flex and adjust? How might our decisions today affect us ten years from now?
Looking for someone to conduct your leadership training? We work with church leaders to facilitate training and retreat experiences that meet your individual needs.  Contact us at dbministrycoach.com.

  1. Fear.  This is when you feel an unusual pain in your chest and you assume the worst.  How do you calm your fears?  You schedule a visit to the doctor, who assures you it’s only a pulled muscle.  When we fear, we need accurate information.  In ministry, we may grow paranoid when we fail to accurately understand a situation (which often leads us to act unfaithfully or even irrationally).  Here’s a question:  in what relationships do you need to stop speculating and seek understanding?  With whom are you assuming a motive for a particular action, when in reality you simply don’t know?  Research suggests that 90% of the time when we try to guess why people act toward us in a certain way, we guess wrong.  The only way to know is to ask, not assume.  James 1:19 instructs us to be “quick to hear and slow to speak.”
  2. Need. You lose your objectivity when you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.  Marketers know that the smell of popcorn at the movie theater will entice us to spend money that we would never have spent otherwise ($7.64 for a box the last time I checked).  The answer here is to stop and think before acting.  It is often true with our words when we feel the need to defend ourselves or speak our mind.  Proverbs 18:13, however, gives some wise counsel: “To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.” Watch your words when impulse says you need to speak, and stay out of the candy isle when you’re hungry.
  3. Personal relationships. I’ve heard it said many times in business:  “You should never hire someone you can’t fire.”  In consultations with church leaders, I have observed this to be a common pitfall of elderships.  Family members are chosen or hired to serve in ministry positions, or children are perceived to be given “special treatment” when it comes to leading areas of ministry.  When it comes to making decisions regarding a child, an elder should always step away and defer decision-making to other leaders.   A leader’s inability or refusal to recognize this pitfall causes much distrust between church members and leaders.  So when it comes to a decision about a family member, step out of the room.
  4. Defensiveness. When we are attacked, emotions run high and we lose our objectivity.  Dealing with an aggressor calls for humility and prayer.  Remember David hiding from Saul in the back of the cave (1 Samuel 24)?  When Saul stepped into the cave to relieve himself, David was encouraged by his men to take Saul’s life.  David, however, refused to render evil for evil against the Lord’s anointed when faced with unfair aggression.  He sought to neutralized Saul’s attacks through humility and respect.  Again and again, David said by his words and actions, “I’m not going to fight with you.”  Later, his son Solomon would write in Proverbs 24:29, “Do not say, ‘I will do to others as they have done to me; I will pay them back for what they have done’” (NRSV).  I can’t help but wonder if he was thinking about his father.  Every day we are faced with opportunities to do good or to do evil.  Jesus shows us the better way: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps . . . .  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21,23).

Several years ago ten whales were found beached off the Baha Peninsula, and though experts were called in to try to rescue them, their efforts failed.  All ten whales died. A marine biologist was asked to study the event to understand what happened.  Apparently, the whales were chasing small fish, and the final report said they chased them into water where they didn’t belong and became stranded.  The headlines read, “Giants Perish Chasing Minnows.” Satan well knows the mission God has for the church – to “go into all the word and make disciples.”  To prevent the church from achieving her mission, however, he tries to beach the church by getting Christians to chase a bunch of little periphery issues that have nothing to do with our real agenda. Jesus addressed this tendency with the Pharisees.  They were skilled in what the law said, but they missed the point and spirit of the law.  When they threw a woman caught in adultery down before him, they asked, “What does the LAW say?”  Jesus wanted to know, “But what about this WOMAN?”  On another occasion Jesus said to the religious leaders, You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).  They knew the minutest issues of the law but missed who the scriptures were pointing to in the process.  Then there’s the Apostle Paul in Acts 9.  Any religious leader of his day would have said, “There’s a man who knows the Scriptures.”  Yet Paul had to go blind to see the truth!  After he met Christ on the Damascus Road, he stopped chasing minnows and put his central focus where it belonged—the Cross of Christ! Paul gained a sense of the immensity of the mercy of God in his life, and it became his life’s passion to proclaim that message from the rooftops.  He later spoke of those who were “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).  They were the ones who had a “form of godliness” but denied the power of God (2 Tim. 3:5).  So consider this:  We can become experts in knowing what the Scriptures say, but not experts in doing what the scriptures say.  God didn’t give us the Bible just so we could accrue information; he gave us the scriptures so we could experience transformation.  (How can DBMinistryCoach help you?  See our web site for a compete of list of consulting services for churches).

I’ve learned that silence in the eldership means disapproval.  These words were spoken to me by a church leader who made a proposal to his fellow elders.  When no one responded and everyone looked around with blank stares, he knew the idea was dead in the water.  It wasn’t that he minded divergent opinions; he simply struggled to understand why a mere discussion about the idea seemed so far away. I am convinced this scenario is played out time and again because of the way we view the adoption of a new idea – up or down.  Leadership groups are often held captive to the belief that most decisions are either/or propositions.  Why not make room for both/and, for the refinement of an idea through healthy discussion to produce an even better idea? Here’s a suggestion:  Instead of trying to get a group of leaders to arrive at a decision by way of a simple up or down vote, ask each member for a 1-5 vote.  Here’s what we mean:
  1. I’m all in, let’s go.
  2. I’m all in, but I have a question or two.
  3. I need a little more time.
  4. I’m not for it, but I won’t work against it.
  5. I’m not for it, and I’ll work against it.
This kind of vote is helpful to gauge the temperature of the group.  If there are mostly 1’s and 2’s, the likelihood of the decision looks hopeful.  If a group member indicates a 3, then it is helpful to ask patiently, “How much time do you need?”  If there are mostly 4’s and 5’s, the best advice is to wait a while, take time for conversation and for prayer.  The wise Solomon said, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).  Such an approach puts us on the path toward creating a shared vision versus the adoption of an idea that may not have been subjected to all necessary reflection.  It also honors the efforts of one bringing the idea to the table, whether adopted or not.  Through meaningful conversation and mutual respect, leaders will most likely discover a better way forward.

  • “If you can’t count what is important, you count what you can count.”
It was a moment of spoken revelation for me during a recent PBS documentary on the Vietnam War.  They said we were winning; but were we?  They pointed out indicators of success, but were they counting the right things? Though the work of building churches is an inexact parallel to war (though some might debate that based on their experiences), it caused me to ask as a leader:  “Are we counting the right things as indicators of success?  Are we counting what we can count, instead of what really matters?” Perhaps the easiest thing to count is attendance.  It’s measurable.  It’s visible.  It gives ministers security when we can say, “The house was full today.”  And while I believe numbers have some value – the book of Acts tells us about the number of people coming to Christ – are numbers the best measure of success when it comes to leading people toward a lifestyle of following Jesus?  On the other hand, is it possible for someone to attend every Sunday for years and not be growing as a disciple of Jesus? Contrast that with a conversation I had with a young man this week.  Though he is probably a little over 50/50 in attendance, he called to tell me about a Bible reading app with which he is connected.  He said, “I love it.  I read my Bible every day, and I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t stay in the Word.  I read the Bible in the morning, I do the devotional each night with my wife and daughter, and since I have made the commitment to be directed by God’s Word each day, I have found my walk with Jesus more constant and faithful.” I asked myself, “Is this a good measure of spiritual success?” Through the years I have heard a good number of sermons on church attendance, and at times I have seen Hebrews 10:25 used as a hammer over the head.  (In fact, I distinctly remember a godly minister, Paul Rogers, saying at a preacher’s workshop that you can use a hammer to kill a man, or you can use it to build a bird house).  Upon reflection, I am pretty sure that the passage that was used to promote attendance was misused and misapplied at times. As I have watched people grow spiritually, however, I have come to see that success in ministry is not so much about numbers, but more about leading people toward faithfulness to Jesus in the everydayness of life–faithfulness in prayer, faithfulness in reflecting upon Scripture, faithfulness in being connected to the family of God (which is so much more than attending a service).  Robby Gallaty writes, “Jesus never attempted to draw large crowds for the sake of counting heads . . . . Jesus was not interested in growing a mile wide and an inch deep.  Rather, He focused on developing mature, faithful disciples who would go out and make more disciples” (Growing Up, 22).  The two churches that received the highest praise in the book of Revelation were Smyrna and Philadelphia, both small churches.  My guess is, they were measuring the things that mattered, not just the attendance. The work of making disciples is slow, sometimes difficult, and less noticeable than a big crowd on Sunday.  But in the end, it’s the careful and thoughtful work of disciplemaking that I believe is making the greatest difference for the Kingdom.  Paul instructed Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).  If every Christian could lead just one to be a follower of Jesus each year, we would change the world like the early Christians did.  How are you gauging ministry success?   (Our team is having conversations with ministers and church leaders weekly about disciplemaking.  Contact us for a practical conversation on leading your congregation to a more productive future in fulfilling the Great Commission).

 
  • “In times of changes, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer
Our team has been working with congregations who tell us they are stuck.  Literally.  Their biggest challenge?  Creating a compelling and unified vision for the future.  Most are lacking what we call alignment, a sign of congregational health where leaders and members are on the same page allowing energy to flow forward and outward to the community.  When a congregation is aligned, there is passion and enthusiasm.  There is “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).  Through a proven process, we work hard to discover the story of the congregation through meaningful conversation to help bring members into alignment by creating a shared vision.  We believe there are 4 questions every church must ask:
  1. Where are we? It’s interesting how many church leaders don’t know their own story.  Part of this is that we live in a culture that doesn’t do a great job interpreting and identifying our stories.  But here’s what happens:  when you don’t know your story and you haven’t properly interpreted it, the story rules you.  Therefore, we need to understand it and call it what it is.  (In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had authority over the Garden by naming the animals.  When leaders name the story accurately, it stops ruling the congregation.  Now you have mastery over the past versus the other way around.  You now begin to have breakthroughs instead of gridlock). It takes openness and honesty to arrive at a point of mastery.
  2. Where do you want to go? You must first know where you are before you know where to go.  This was true of the Israelites down in Egypt who first had to recognize their need for deliverance.  Once we have an accurate understanding of where we are – our weaknesses, strengths, perhaps our need for confession about the past – we can begin creating a shared vision going forward.  This is where the Spirit of God begins to bring freshness to our thoughts, dreams and ideas.
  3. How will you get there?  This is the planning stage, the time when we create reachable and measurable goals.  We have found that a church needs to identify 3-4 things they can do, and that means focusing on what you have.  You may remember that Moses objected to the call of God to speak to Pharaoh.  The Lord responded, “What is that in your hand?”  It was a staff.  Leaders must focus on what they have, not what they don’t have.  Even in churches with limited resources, we have found that when there is fervent prayer and a desire to reach others, God helps leaders work with what they have.  God is in the business of taking weak things and making them strong.
  4. How do we know we’ve gotten there? These are the checkpoints along the way so that we don’t forget our vision.  This is the stage when we often must redirect our resources.  You may remember watching Star Trek when you were young.  Whenever the Klingons attacked and put the ship and crew in peril, Scotty would say to the captain from below deck, “We have to divert the power to the engine so we can move, Captain.”  Some churches are like a ship in trouble, damaged and falling apart.  Through honest conversation, we can again find the engine and discover where the power is.
  • WE WANT TO HELP!  Is your congregation stuck?  Are you worried about your future?  Let our team members help you answer the Four Big Questions.  We received the following letter from our most recent Church Vision Weekend:  “Recently, we decided to have David Baker and Mark Massey come to Pensacola to conduct a Vision Weekend for our congregation.  We discussed our situation and needs and David and Mark drew up a plan to capture congregational data through surveys and focus groups. Their weekend plan incorporated an afternoon presentation with the elders where they offered their findings, suggestions, and resources to help us move forward. What a blessing to have these two brothers! David brings a unique perspective from the standpoint of a Gospel Minister and Mark offers years of experience as an elder. This weekend was of great help to the congregation and to the eldership as we move forward in His service.”