People follow vision and direction.
Has your church plateaued? Note: A new person trickling in once in a while doesn't count as growth.
Has your church been in decline? Note: Decline isn't measured in seasonal or short term attendance drop off. Instead, decline means a sustained decrease in more than one area of your church. Are leaders leaving and finances dwindling? Is attendance dropping while volunteer recruitment has become next to impossible without tapping the same people over and over again?
Are you feeling stuck and unsure what lies ahead for you or your church? Note: Being stuck can present itself in a number of different ways. Such as: lack of clarity, unwillingness to consider change, a failure to consider new approaches to ministry.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you aren't alone. I have been able to answer yes to all of the above at some point in my role as a lead pastor.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions the chances are one of the big issues you need to start with is a good, long and honest look at the vision and direction in your church.
One of my main roles as a lead pastor is to drive and initiate vision and direction. If you are the person at the top of your organization/ministry that applies to you as well. Vision and direction needs to be initiated from the top.
The problem: I'm not perfect and neither are you. Ministry can highlight our insecurities and imperfections. Sometimes ministry can just be down right tough and exhausting. There are things that can get in the way as we try to find, initiate or drive vision and direction for our church and organization.
Here are three things that can kill vision and direction in your church.
- Pressure. "I don't want to do it, but I will." Pressure can become a driving force in our ministry in many different ways, but when it comes to the vision and direction of the church, it will sideline you. Pressure becomes an unhealthy driving force when: You give in to the power players at church who want the church to serve their agenda. You are making the easier decisions instead of the right decisions. Too many voices are considered in an attempt to please others.
- Desire. "I want to." You can easily lose your direction and vision when you put your desires and preferences above the needs of the church. Desire becomes and unhealthy driving force killing your vision and essentially your church when "I" statements grab too much space in your heart. Here are some examples: I want to have a big church. I want to be a lead pastor. I want to teach every week. I want to retire in this town. I want to be the most important person in the organization. I want to write a book. I want to ___________. Seeking God's direction and casting vision is a constant removal of self. I know you would never say those things out loud, but don't let them steal your heart's attention away from God's direction. What if the vision and direction for the church should cost you your role at church? What if God has something better for you? What if the vision and direction of the church is bigger and better than you can imagine? You will never be insignificant if you keep seeking God's direction.
- Fear. "I am afraid to." This one is so tough and it is the most common driving force that sidelines vision and direction. The fears that pop up run deep. Financial fears -> I won't be able to pay my mortgage if I lose this job. Fear of losing significance -> If I am not teaching every week, who am I. Fear of not having a future -> I can't do anything else if I lose this job. Fear can be paralyzing, but you can trust Jesus through it. Don't let your fears drive you to insignificance. Step out in courage. Here is a talk about my journey through fear https://vimeo.com/240025716 You aren't alone.
The driving force of vision and direction is always and should always be faith.
You can get back on track as a visionary leader today in 2 simple steps:
1) Evaluate the 3 driving forces mentioned above. What pressures, desires or fears have you been wrestling with? Have they been getting in the way of you initiating and driving vision for your organization?
2) Talk about them with a staff member/colleague/friend/spouse. Once you start talking about these three driving forces they start to lose their power to push you away from the direction God has for you.
God is going to do awesome stuff through you as you continue to seek his direction for your ministry. We all drift sometimes. It's okay. Realign yourself today. Start leading with vision and direction and watch health start to blossom in your church.
Place your confidence in God.
Let's do this.
Your voice matters.