Unsame Your Ministry Vision, Part 1

Are you going to be satisfied with a future for ministry that is more of the same?

Very few pastors break from norm of mediocre church ministry. But I am convinced it doesn’t have to be that way.

Last fall I was honored to participate in Leadership Network’s roll-out of their Leadia Experience. My conribution was FLUX: Four Paths to the Future. FLUX provides a guide for thinking, adapting, and innovating in order to discover new possibilities for your church. It starts with one whiteboard drawing and gives you a matrix for assessing and planning your future.

I encourage you to engage with the full experience. But for now, I challenge you to rethink and reimagine your ministry with this post mini-series  from FLUX.

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination, do not become the slave of your model – Vincent Van Gogh

Every once in while, I find a new feature on my Mac or iPhone, because I discover a default switch or button that I didn’t know existed. In fact there is a specific definition for this:

Default: a selection automatically used by a computer program in the absence of a choice made by the user

Many times it’s no big deal, but sometimes I want to kick myself for missing out on some cool functionality. I didn’t know the default switch even existed!

After a decade of daily conversations about vision with ministry teams, I have discovered a hidden vision switch with a default position in the minds of church leaders. But this default setting is not just about missing out on a nifty feature. It’s about a fundamental mode of thinking that’s limiting us.

Let me explain.

One question I always enjoy asking church leaders is “How do you want your church to be different two years from now?”

What kind of answers do I get?

The most common two-word response is “more people.” Of course that expresses itself in many forms:

  • Increased worship
  • More growth
  • Higher attendance
  • Additional services
  • Reaching more people
  • Reversing decline

Think about that for a minute. “How do you want your church to be different in two years?” Imagine the infinite number of answers possible to this question. For example, pastors could have responded with answers like:

  • More desperate for Jesus
  • More intimacy between husbands and wives
  • More engaged in social justice and civic responsibilities
  • More families having devotionals together
  • More friendships with people far from God
  • More students serving other students

But for the most part, they don’t give answers like this. Despite the rainbow variety of gospel-centered, life-transforming possibilities the most common answer is always, in one form or another, “More people.”

Keep in mind that the one-dimensional answer of “more people” transcends an incredibly wide variety of church settings and leaders, from uptown to small town, mainline or online – from the newest staff newbie to the post-retired, hard-to-expire. Everyone wants “more people.”

And “more people” is good. Jesus wants more people too. And yes, churches “should count people because people count.”

But there’s something important behind the answer of “more people.” And that something reveals this default setting in the life of the everyday pastor. Church leaders are not just saying that want “more people.” What they are really saying is…

KEEP READING (part 2 of 3)

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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