My GPS is my best friend. My confidence is always higher when I’m clear on where I am going. Every GPS starts with first entering a destination. Purposeful direction for a congregation is a lot like having a GPS, and using it!
I have learned that growing congregations have already figured this out. They have clarity of purpose that informs their decision-making and increases alignment. This is a relatively new idea as many congregations have moved forward for generations without a purposeful direction. We got by with this because we already knew the roads. But the landscape has changed and we need help navigating as new paths are developed.
The huge cultural upheavals going on all around us have made our previous routes less helpful. They have also opened up amazing new frontiers for ministry. Congregations with clarity of purpose are able to answer these three questions that are essential for growing congregations:
- Who are we? This names the unique identity of your congregation’s call at this time in history.
- What do we do together? This focuses and prioritizes the behaviors of the community, guiding decision-making and alignment.
- Why do we do what we do? This provides a cohesive understanding throughout the congregation that results in the confidence to question unwritten rules, and align messaging through our words and actions.
This month’s 10 Minute Toolbox digs deeply into these questions for strategic conversations by leaders. The main work of a congregational council is to guide the vision and mission of the church in partnership with the pastor and staff. Again, this may be a new idea – check out the webinar to open up this conversation with your council.
A purposeful congregational ministry includes more than meeting the needs of the members. A purposeful Christian ministry is first about following Jesus as we learn to live every day as disciples. It also includes taking seriously the local neighborhood and an outward mission in the world. There is a bonus Toolbox this month that offers a model for listening to God, the congregation and the community to discern a purpose for congregational ministry that looks outward. This Tune-in Process is a proven method for moving congregations into mission.
You may be wondering, what if we select the wrong destination? Do we have the capacity to re-route?
There may be people in your congregation who feel burned out from previous attempts at purposeful strategic planning or who are reluctant to focus in one direction out of respect for those who may disagree. Or you may feel like your congregation is too small or too old to try something new. These fears can paralyze leaders. My suggestion is to take it one step at a time. Find a pace that works for you by trying a few small experiments at clarifying purpose. Listening through the Tune-In process can be a one month or one year journey. Without intentional effort to know why you exist, your congregation will not exist in the future. I know that sounds harsh but it is happening all around us. LEAD exists to help congregations grow deep, bold, consequential faith in Jesus – one leader at a time.