What do you think is the way that God intends for the church to make disciples?
Can you state it clearly in a sentence?
What is the goal of your church and what are you doing to reach that goal?
When you answer these questions, you are revealing strategy.
If you are going to lead people from one place to another, by definition, you have a strategy. You must know where you are starting from and know where you are going and how you are going to move from one place to the other. Even if your plan is to just flow with the Spirit, you still have a strategy, albeit a very fluid one.
A strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
In ministry, our mission is to make disciples and teach them to become mature followers of Christ who then make more disciples. All of our ideas about what we could do should point towards this ultimate goal.
I love talking strategy. Buckle up. This is my longest post to date.
There is great power in our metaphors. The words we use to think about things shapes what we do.
In many of the circles I move in, there is a growing resistance to referring to the church as a business. I’m not opposed to that; however, it is one thing to deconstruct a failed model, it is another to be able to explain and point to the correct model.
I believe family is the God-ordained model, but family is the correct metaphor for church only to the degree that we have a correct view of family. I have a few caveats before we jump in with both feet.
All of us appreciate visionary leadership, and we have all been greatly affected by it. Whether our visionary leaders are historic figures, great authors, caring teachers, parents, or bosses; we appreciate someone who exposes us to a better, new way of living. In the classic example, they tell us, “You can’t stay here. There’s something better available. Here’s how things could be. This is who you can become.”
This seems obvious to me: if you are not calling people to something different, you aren’t leading. In a word, leadership is change. Strategy is important. It tells us how we are going to get there, but fundamentally, visionary leadership always includes change.
If leadership is change, the greatest most important leadership lesson, then, is to create an environment where change is expected and embraced as natural. Would any of us describe the average church this way? From updating decor to outdated programs, the last words we would use to describe church is expecting and embracing change.
I know I talk a lot about change and Christianity. Because, well, like it or not, it’s here. You can change or be left behind. But I never advocate change for the sake of change. We are in the middle of intense cultural transformation. I want to see the church lead the way, because I believe we know The Way. My concern, and why I keep beating this drum, is this: if we keep fighting for an illusion of past cultural significance, influence, and glory—that doesn’t even matter!—we’ll miss what does matter: people who need Jesus.
Forewarned is forearmed
I’m going to make a giant logical leap in this post. I am going to take an article about ‘Gamer’ culture and apply it to church culture.
Because I believe the cultural challenges we face as church people are not all that different than cultural challenges faced in other areas of life and spheres of influence.
I am hoping that by showing the futile energy being spent on an outdated paradigm in ‘Gamer’ culture—and that being something most readers don’t relate to or care about (and thus, have no pre-built defenses)—I can then help you see that the same scenario (an outdated paradigm and the futile energy being spent on it) is at work in the church today.
I am hoping that this very real-life analogy will jar some into understanding who otherwise couldn’t get there.
It’s not very sexy to say, but few things matter as much as organizational structure. The way we live—literally determined by a sequence of choices born out of belief—determines everything.
This is very true of the church as well. Whether good or bad, the structure of our churches exactly matches what we really believe. There’s no way around it.
As we continue to til the soil of understanding about how the church does its work, we have looked at this important definition:
A. A business is an organization involved in the trade of goods and/or services to customers in exchange for money.
B. The efficient and effective operation of business is accomplished through the management of financial, capital, and human resources.