Lost in the woods…

Recently, I’ve found myself struggling with something I enjoy. Let me explain, since that doesn’t make much sense to me, and I wrote it.

I love studying leadership development, organizational systems, and strategic planning. All of these are things that help out as a pastor, who is trying to help lead a church to growth and change. I can often find myself reading article after article of different things to develop and improve ministries. I buy 2-3 books at a time about “crafting your vision” or “maximizing potential strengths”. I could have meetings all day with ministry teams dedicated to improve our capacity and effectiveness.

Here’s the problem with that: it reduces the church to a generic organization, rather than a spirit-fueled entity. The trick is that a church requires many of the same things that any business does; vision, focus, organization, administration, strategic planning, etc. A church also requires the Spirit of God above all else. And so, a church leader (whether you’re the pastor or not) needs to balance between organizational leadership and spiritual power.

So here are some things that help out with that:

1) Keep the main thing, the main thing: This is true in any relationship or business. You must, above everything else, know why you’re doing something. Why are you married to someone? Why do you work where you work? Why do you go to that church, as opposed to the one down the street? Why are you leading your organization?

No organization exists solely to create organizations. Businesses exist to turn a passion into money. Marriages exist to turn two individual people into one family. And churches exist to create Christ filled disciples. No strategy can replace that.

In an age dedicated to results and metrics, it’s especially easy in a church to turn numbers and measurements of vitality into the main thing. I’ve been guilty of this recently. It’s important to remember that members of a 20 person church can be more vital disciples than members at a 4,000 person church (and vice versa). Metrics don’t determine the “why”. Your “why” determine what metrics you use.

2) You NEED metrics and strategic planning – This is the opposite problem of #1. Too many churches (and other businesses/organizations for that matter) are afraid to look at the numbers and plan things out. And that’s true for a number of reasons.

In churches, many of the people I’ve met who are opposed to measuring worship attendance, offerings, bible studies, or service projects do so because they’re not “truly measuring our vitality”. Essentially, people feel like the numbers don’t accurately show what’s going on. And it’s true that in church, it’s difficult to truly numerically measure discipleship.

But the old adage is true: “what gets measured, gets done.” Without measuring your attendance, you don’t know if you’re growing. Without evaluating your service projects, you won’t know if you are having the desired impact (this implies you have a desired impact, as opposed to just doing something nice.)

Without sails, ships can’t move with the wind. Without a compass, you don’t know which way you’re going. A church can spend it’s time praying God helps them grow, but until they put the needed tools in place to harness that prayer, it’s wasted breath.

3) Create balance –  Every church needs someone who can strategically plan, effectively evaluate, and be the spiritual anchor for any ministry. They should not, however, be the same person at the same time. Someone who is passionate about planning a ministry is too emotionally invested to objectively evaluate their initiative. They may be able to take an honest look a couple of weeks after the project, but not right away.

Someone in every ministry needs to constantly be asking about the spiritual side of things. It’s so easy to lose sight of the importance of prayer when everyone is excited about doing ministry. I know it’s an oxymoron, but it’s one of the biggest truths I’ve learned in ministry: People get too busy doing ministry to pray.

There you go. I hope these thoughts help you out.

And remember, I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Let me know your thoughts down below.

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