I haven’t posted to this blog in a while. I have been busy trying to get my book ready to publish. The book is entitled: “What Happened to Our Church?” with the subtitle “And where do we go from here?
I really believe this book will be helpful, particularly to churches facing changing. It is primarily addressed to people in more traditional churches that have not successfully changed with the times. I offer a lot of explanation as to why their church is in the circumstances it is in, and I offer options for change.
This project came out of the many consultations I have with traditional churches in my work. Hopefully, the book will be in print (and digital?) early in 2015.
As a church consultant, I find that some of the most effective tools in my box are good, strategic questions. Good questions are always clear and easy to present, but often difficult to answer. As a big fan of Will Mancini www.willmancini.com, I often use his five questions to discover where a congregation is. Here are those questions:
The mission question: What are we doing? Mancini says that the trouble with most pastors is that they lead from a general sense of mission, rather than a clearly focused sense of mission.
The value question: Why are we doing it? Our values are our motives that guide our actions reveal our strengths.
The strategy question: How are we doing it? Can you draw a “napkin sketch” that illustrates your “how”? Mancini says that we often confuse ministry means with ministry ends. When we are not clear, we tend to measure our means rather than our ends.
The measures question: When are we successful? He states that a lot of churches just count attendance and income. Circuses can count these – what makes your church different from a circus.
The vision question: Where is God taking us? This is unique to every church (hence, Mancini’s book “Church Unique”).
So next time your team is debating some proposed activity or new ministry, it may be helpful to fall back on these questions before making the decision.
In previous posts on Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” I have covered the “Cul-de-sac” and the “Cliff”. When we find ourselves facing either of these situations the right thing to do is to quit. The third situation is different. This one is the “Dip”. The dip comes when you are on the right track but suddenly things get difficult. Instead of coasting along, you are now having to power up hill – and the hill is getting steeper. What do you do?
This is the time to try even harder! Redouble your efforts, lean in, pour all of your energy into it. Why? Because a lot of other people quit when they hit the dip. If you push through, you will be in the rare group who made it. If you are in a competitive field, much of your competition will have dropped off. If you are working on a project, yours will be one of the few that make it to completion. If you are running a marathon… well, you get the idea.
Very few people push through the dip. Those that do are the ones who succeed. Just about anything worth doing will have a dip. If this weren’t the case, the top would be crowded – but it’s not. Most people give up at the first signs of trouble. Many back down to the early resistance. They figure that there must be a smoother road to the top. There isn’t! Stick to the hard road. If it is the right road.
So, to summarize: What is your biggest challenge? Ask yourself three questions:
- Am I going around in circles, not getting towards the goal? If so, quit now.
- Am I heading to a crash – like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoons? Is so, stop! Turn around.
- Am I facing a difficult challenge with a prize on the other side? Keep pushing. Work harder. Get over it.
One of my heroes, the Apostle Paul, wrote:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3.12-14
What has “taken hold” of you? Press on toward the goal!