“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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”