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Why Visionaries Paint Pictures not Wordsmith Statements

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Right now, there are churches across the country that are working on their “ministry theme” for the new year. They’ve gotten their Senior Leadership Team together to come up with a pithy statement that they can build a sermon series around and many have even built a campaign around this statement to make sure all of their key volunteers know the new statement for the new year. They may have even put it in a print piece, on their website, or even branded and purchased some swag to give away to support the theme.

You’ve probably seen churches do this. They build themes around baptizing a certain number of people, social justice and serving their community, “going deep” together through bible studies, building community through small groups, or some kind of generosity initiative to name a few.

Many churches even go so far as to call this their vision for the next year. Unfortunately, it’s not. It may be a ministry emphasis, a goal, or even a slogan but it’s not a vision.

“Make America Great Again” and “Stronger Together” were campaign slogans. Neither was a vision. Unfortunately, churches get stuck building and using “campaign slogans” instead of vision casting.

Vision isn’t a Statement it’s a Picture

Vision is a picture of the future, not a statement. Many churches spend an incredible amount of time wordsmithing vision statements instead of providing a clear picture of where they’re going.

Vision isn’t a Goal it’s a Destination

Goals are simply vision with a timeline. They are the actionable and attainable steps or objectives to be met that move the organization in the direction of the vision. You know you’re winning and moving in the direction of and reaching the vision when you are meeting your goals!

Mission Answers the Question: Why do we exist?
This is the timeless answer to why your church is on the planet in the first place. We don’t get to pick our mission Jesus did that for us. That’s the whole, “go and make disciples,” part. But we do get to pick language that contextualizes it for our culture.

Vision Answers the Question: Where are we going?
This is the next hill that needs to be taken. Vision typically changes every 3-5 years. Vision changes because once you get there and have taken then hill, there’s always the next hill to take.

Most church staff can’t articulate the next hill their church is taking. They don’t’ know the target on the wall they’re shooting for. One way to begin to bring clarity to the vision at your church is to simply ask the question,

“Where would we be in 3-5 years if our church faithfully lived out the mission Jesus has given us in the context of our community, unique culture of our church, gifting and passions of our Sr. Leadership, and resources that God has given us?”

Doing the serious work to answer this question will help you put a target on the wall to hit. Getting crystal clear on this will have a “trickle down” effect on every decision made in your church over the next 3-5 years. It will allow you to:

  • Set goals and measure results.
  • Determine how to allocate resources and budget.
  • Help you understand how you need to structure your staffing model.
  • Bring alignment to ministries.

Posted in Leadership

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What do you do when you Don’t Agree with your Pastor?

Business agreement - Senior and young male executives shaking hands at office

If you work on staff at a church, chances are at some point you’re going to disagree with your pastor. That’s okay, you’re human, it would be naive to think you’re always going to agree with your pastor. But what you do with that disagreement is where things can get really messy. Messy for you, and messy for the church.

Choose to Love Them

You don’t have to agree with someone in order to love them. I choose to love people I don’t agree with all the time. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be married. This may seem like a simple step but it’s an important step, and it’s the first step. Even if you don’t agree with them, your pastor isn’t the enemy. The enemy (Satan) is the enemy, not your pastor.

Take Personal Ownership

The best place to start when you don’t agree with your pastor is not with the question, “What do they need to change?” but rather, “What do I need to change?” Do I need to change my belief, assumptions, attitude, approach, or actions? This is an important step, because while you can’t change another person, you can change you.

Submit to Them

God has given a unique seat to the leader you’re following, and it’s important to remember that He’s chosen to give that seat to them…not you. Make sure you measure your attitude and keep your heart in check. It’s important to tell yourself the truth. Speaking poorly of your leader or creating disunity not only hurts the church and the movement of the Gospel, but the Bible talks about those things as sin. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to remember and read up on the way David submitted to Saul. Oh yea…and remember, even if you don’t like it, for some reason God has allowed the leadership at your church to be in authority at this time. God could be using this time in your life to teach you lessons like: “learning how to be under authority before you’re in authority,” or “the art of timing.”

Leave Them

If you’ve lost respect for your pastor and you can no longer in good conscience follow them, it may be time to leave. If you can’t submit to the leadership of your pastor or by you staying it will create disunity it may be time to leave. Here’s a couple of articles that will help you begin to understand if it’s time for you to leave your church:


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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How Success can be your Worst Enemy

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When faced with the choice between failure and success I’d take success every time. You would too. It’s way more fun to win than to lose. But what if I told you that your past and current success may be the very thing holding you back from future success?

Success Tempts us to Settle

Success tempts us to settle instead of spread. We cling to the success that we have achieved with both hands and fail to grasp new opportunities.

Success makes you Conservative

The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success. Current success turns into past success and the past has a nostalgia that the future never will.

Success can Hide Motive

It’s easy to hide our motivation and heart in the apparent external success of the churches we’re building. I’m not saying every church leader has poor motives, far from it! But it’s easy to ignore motive when you’re experiencing success.

Success Creates an Avoidance of Risk

Success can keep us from taking risk. It’s easy to trust God and take big risk when you don’t have much to trust to God. But when you’ve found success and there is perceivably more on the line it’s not as easy.

Success brings Resources

Too many resources can be an innovation killer. A lack of resources teaches resourcefulness and tenacity. God can guide by what He withholds just as easily as by what He gives.

Success keeps you from Innovation

If you haven’t failed in a while, you’re probably playing it too safe and too small.

Is there Success without Succession?

Is what started with you going to end with you? You’ve got to move from “it can’t happen without you,” to “it happens with you,” to “it grows without you.”


Posted in Leadership

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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It’s almost Christmas!!! Hope you have all of your shopping done (not likely) and I’m praying that Christmas Eve is an incredible moment at your churches and that your people take the step to invite their friends and many people “say yes” to following Jesus! Until then, let me say thanks for making November another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s always good staying connected with you through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

This post came out of a conversation I had with a Leadership Coaching Network that I was facilitating back in 2013. So I wrote this post 4 years ago and it continues to be one of my top posts of all-time. Hope it’s helpful!

6 Lessons I’ve Learned from 6 Years of Multisite Church Leadership

Nearly 6 years ago Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the honor of serving at) adopted a multisite strategy to deliver growth to new areas and reach new people with the Gospel. That one decision changed everything. Since that time, we’ve grown from one campus to five (with more to come) and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some of those lessons, as you would expect, we’ve learned the hard way. Here’s a few that stand out.

10 Things that Require Zero Talent

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” That’s a statement I talk to my son about all the time. He’s only 9 years old, but I want him to grow up to have a great work ethic and a positive attitude. I don’t expect him to be the great at everything he attempts, but I do expect him to give a great effort. There’s a lot of things he can’t control in life, but he’ll always be able to control his effort and his attitude.

3 Shifts that Growing Multisite Churches Experience

The decision to adopt a multisite strategy to deliver growth may be a decision that your church is considering. While still young as a movement, multisite is proving to be an incredibly effective strategy for growing churches to deliver growth to new “markets” and reach new people with the Gospel. However, going multisite will make things more complicated and more difficult for you as a leader and for your church.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

Stop Hiring People you Like

A wrong hire can set a ministry back for years and unfortunately churches aren’t known for making great hires. Pastors have a tendency to hire people that they like, and value relational chemistry over production. I get it. Pastors are taught Greek, Theology and the Bible. Seminaries aren’t known for providing great courses on recruiting, hiring and team development.

Why at Teaching Team is a better approach to Teaching at your Church

Although the idea of a teaching team is not a new idea, I’m surprised at the amount of churches across the country that have not embraced this approach to preaching in their weekend worship services.

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church 

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

Does your Church need to Sacrifice something Sacred?

Chances are your church has some “sacred cow” ministries that have been around for a long time, have a great history, have had a great impact in the past, but are on life support now. Does your church need to sacrifice some of these sacred cows?

The Difference between a Shepherd and a Leader

I love helping churches and leaders get unstuck and make vision real. In fact out of all the stuff I get to do with churches and leaders one of the things I enjoy the most is Leadership Coaching. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day coaching a group of Pastors and Church Leaders from Australia (unfortunately their cool accent didn’t rub off). One of the topics we spent time digging into was the difference between shepherding and leading in relation to why some churches are stuck while others move forward. Here are couple of thoughts from the conversation.


Posted in Leadership

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[Webinar Replay] Underfunded: 4 Reasons Church Vision Stalls

Recently the Unstuck Group hosted a conversation with Joe Sangl, the President and CEO of INJOY Stewardship Solutions about church vision and the common challenges of funding it well.

Even an inspiring vision can stall out when funding falls short. And for many different reasons, money is an aspect of vision pastors often sidestep.

In the conversation, we touched on topics like:

  • The Un-Fundable Vision
  • Fundraising vs. Building a Generous Culture
  • The Campaign Trap
  • Not Knowing What You Don’t Know (and Proceeding Anyway)

If you missed out on the conversation, click here to get the webinar replay.


Posted in Family
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