3 Pace-Setting Tools for Lead Pastors

I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?” I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, with all different methods and styles. But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor. So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The very first task of leadership is to set the vision for the organization. If you don’t set the vision, you’re not the leader. Whoever is establishing the vision in your church is the leader of that particular church. A church will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a church will never outgrow the vision of the pastor.

If I’m smart I can always compensate for my weaknesses. I can always hire people to do things or delegate to volunteers the things that I can’t do. If I’m not good at counseling, I can find people who are good at counseling. If I’m not good at administration and details, I can find people to handle administration and details. But there is one thing I cannot delegate. I cannot ask other people to believe God for me. I have to set the pace in terms of vision, in terms of dreams, in terms of faith, in terms of what God wants to do in our lives and in our congregation. You cannot delegate faith in God.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:27a, “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (GNT).

So I want to challenge you to dream great dreams for God. One nice thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t cost anything. You can have great dreams and think through and pray through and it doesn’t cost you anything at all. The Bible says,  “God . . . is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB). God comes along and says, “Think up the biggest thing you think I can do in your life, in your ministry, in your church — and I can top that. I can beat it.”

So you need to ask yourself this question, “What would I attempt for God if I knew I couldn’t fail?” Let that expand your horizons. Let it expand your dreams. Expand your vision. It starts with a dream.

There are three parts to getting God’s vision for your ministry.

The first thing God shows you is the What? He shows you what he’s going to do. The big mistake we make once we have a sense of what God wants to do is trying to accomplish it on our own. Inevitably we fall flat on our faces and come crawling back to God saying, “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. What did I do? Did I miss the vision? You told me what you were going to do, and I went out and tried to accomplish it and fell flat on my face. Did I miss the vision?”

And God will say to you, “No, you didn’t. You just didn’t wait for part two. I told you what I was going to do, but you didn’t wait to find out How I was going to do it.” When God shows you how, it always seems to be the opposite way that you thought. And once you see the What and the How you’re still not finished. There’s a third part of the vision.

God shows you When. The longer that I’m alive and the longer I walk with the Lord and the longer I’m in ministry, the more I’m convinced that God’s timing is perfect. He is never a minute early, he is never a minute late, he is always right on time.  These are the three parts to getting God’s vision: What, How, and When. And you must wait for all three parts for God to work in your life.

When I started Saddleback Church, I didn’t envision the enormous campus and the big building we now have. In fact, I’m not a very visual thinker. Some people can see it. They’re like artists, and they can visualize the church buildings when they’re all finished, and they can see exactly what it’s going to look like in their mind. I’ve never been that kind of person. I have what I call Polaroid vision. Have you ever taken a Polaroid picture? You take it and the longer you look at it the clearer it gets. That’s true in my life. When I first started Saddleback, I didn’t know what it was going to end up like. All I knew was that God had called me to this spot and I had a bunch of ideas in a bag and I wanted to build it on the five purposes of God. As I have walked with the Lord and worked with the Lord over the years, the vision has gotten clearer and clearer.

You get God’s vision by saying, “What do you want me to do? How do you want me to do it? And when do you want me to do it?” You need to stop praying, “God, bless what I’m doing.” And instead start praying, “God, help me to do what you want to bless.” I get up in the morning and I pray a very similar prayer every day. “God, I know you’re going to do some very exciting things in the world today. Would you give me the privilege of just being in on some of them? I just want to be in on what you’re doing. I want to do what you’re blessing.”

God uses the person who has a dream.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Vision is a Dream That Can Be Implemented

It’s been said many times by many different people that everything rises or falls on leadership. I don’t think that’s ever truer than in ministry. Charles McKay, a former professor at California Baptist College, used to tell us if you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth. That’s a good statement. You can’t ever take people farther than you are yourself, spiritually or any other way.

I remember when I was interviewed on the Acts television network by Jimmy Allen, and he asked me about starting new churches. He said, “How important is location?” I said it’s very important, the second most important thing. But the most important thing is not location, but leadership in a church. I see churches in great locations that aren’t doing anything and I see churches with good leadership in poor locations doing great things.

Leadership is the key.

You don’t have to be a charismatic leader (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader. Some of the greatest charismatic leaders of this century were also the worst — Stalin, Mao, Hitler. They were all very charismatic people, so personality has nothing to do with dynamic leadership.

Leadership and vision

It’s not the charisma of the leader that matters; but the vision of the leader. Whatever your assignment may be in your church, no matter what your ministry concentration may be, your number one responsibility of leadership in that area is to continually clarify and communicate the vision of that particular ministry. You must constantly answer the question: Why are we here? If you don’t know the answer, you can’t lead.

As a senior pastor, my job is to keep us on track with the original New Testament purpose of the church. That gets much more difficult as the church grows larger and larger. When we were very small, the only people who wanted to come were non-Christians. We didn’t have a lot of programs. We didn’t have a children’s ministry or a music ministry or a youth ministry. The people who wanted all those things went to churches that had them. Now I meet people coming over from other churches every week. This new dynamic presents an acute problem. Every one of these people carries in a load of cultural baggage. They expect Saddleback to be like the church they left. The first words off their lips can be, “At our old church, we did it like this…”

How can I politely say, “We don’t care how you did it at some other church.”?  I don’t mean to be rude, but the vision of the church someone just left isn’t the key issue. Our vision in this church is the key issue. Therefore, I must continually clarify and communicate Saddleback’s vision to everyone who walks through our doors. I must make clear what we are doing and why we are doing it. No one can be left in the dark to the question of vision. At Saddleback, we constantly communicate our vision through the membership class, through social media, and in any way we possibly can. Our purpose for being is always out front where everyone can see it. Everyone needs to know why we are here and catch our vision.

Leader or manager

Vision is the main difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving, and planning. If you go to any management course they’ll be composed of those three things. But leadership consists of vision and values and the communication of those things. If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who’s going to?

Most churches are over-managed and under-led. Your church needs to be managed, but it also needs to be led. You have to have both. When you only have management in the church, you get the problem of paralysis of analysis. It’s like “Ready… Aim … Aim … Aim …” And they never fire. Management without leadership results in constantly analyzing and looking, but never actually doing anything. Don’t get me wrong. You need managers within the church as well. Without them you end up with a church that says, “Ready…. Fire!” without ever taking the time to aim. You need both.

The power of vision

Some people have dreams, but not vision. There is a difference. A vision is a pragmatic dream. Lots of people have great dreams. They have grand ideas of all they would like to accomplish, but they can never get their dreams in a concrete form where they can do something about it. A vision is a dream that can be implemented. It’s specific. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific.

Every Easter Sunday I stand back and marvel at all God has done in our church. We started on an Easter with a handful of people.  Now, every Easter we have even more than the year before as thousands upon thousands gather together. That’s incredible to me when I think how it all just started with a little vision.  And from that we’ve watched a movement happen. That’s the power of a vision.

> Read more from Rick.


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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.