January 29, 2012
Note: Part 2 of 4 in a series on “Getting Unstuck.”
If you truly want to get your ministry unstuck, the next thing to examine is your vision. In Leading Congregational Change, my co-authors and I define vision as a “clear, shared, and compelling picture of the preferred future to which God is calling your congregation [organization].” This definition points to several questions that can be used to examine whether your vision is the reason that you’re feeling stuck:
- Your congregation/organization: Vision cannot be copied from someone else. It needs to reflect the unique DNA of your ministry. Does your vision uniquely reflect your organization?
- God’s preferred future: A vision must be grounded in “who we are” but it must also describe “where God is leading us.” This does not mean that leaders see 3-5 years into the future, but when they prayerfully seek God, He will give enough glimpses for them to begin painting the picture of what that future will look like. Is your vision birthed out of prayer and pointing to the future?
- Clear: “Clear” implies that the vision has been made explicit, not just a vague concept. But beyond that, it also implies choices of what will and won’t be done as a result of the vision. That’s important because an effective vision should focus your efforts on the essentials and allow you to prune the non-essentials. Does your vision create this kind of clarity?
- Shared and compelling: This speaks to the high level of excitement and commitment that should be generated by the vision. It requires the right vision, but it also requires the right process and the involvement of the right people in discerning the vision. Is your vision shared and compelling?
Let me close with 3 common vision killers:
- Vision du jour is the tendency to create a new vision every 6-12 months. This may be a change in the formal vision statement or it may simply be a new emphasis that seems disconnected from previous ones. The best organizations have visions that drive their major decisions for years.
- Vision by committee is the kind of wordy, punchless vision that comes from having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” “Shared” is important, but powerful visions have one (or at most, two) human authors who have sought God and listened closely to the input of other leaders.
- Vision by accommodation is a vague, watered-down vision that attempts to please everyone. In doing so, it provides no direction and generates little excitement.
Is your ministry stuck because it lacks a real vision? If vision isn’t the issue, the next blog will consider another common problem: failure to turn vision into action.
January 7, 2012
One of the far-too-common themes that I hear from leaders is, “We’re stuck.” Their church or ministry may be stuck in terms of numerical growth or spiritually vibrancy, or they may be unable to agree on a major direction-setting decision. Whatever the specific issue, the broader implication is that the ministry is falling short of its God-given potential.
As we enter a new year, a key question to ask is, “Do I really want to get unstuck?” While no one will publicly say that they want to remain frozen in place, choosing to get unstuck is an intentional, courageous act. It starts with admitting that the organization is stuck, that things are not what they should be. This simple admission is difficult for two reasons. First, it’s much more challenging to measure results in ministry than in business. That means it’s easier for you (or other leaders) to argue that you’re not really stuck. Second, you’re the leader, and acknowledging a problem requires accepting at least some of the responsibility.
Please note, being stuck is not synonymous with being inactive. Your ministry can be stuck and be frantically busy at the same time. Think of a car stuck in the sand at the beach. The driver keeps stepping on the gas pedal and the wheels are spinning, but the car isn’t moving. Some organizations are stuck just like the car, with lots of activity but no forward movement.
Admitting the problem is an important step, but it’s not enough. Getting unstuck requires leaders who are willing to pay a price. That price includes the extra time and energy to establish new direction and momentum. It means facing criticism from those who are happy with the status quo. It often means admitting that you don’t have all the answer and asking for help.
If you’re ready to pay the price to get unstuck, then consider the three more common issues that cause ministries to be stuck:
- Lack of a clear, shared, compelling vision
- Lack of concrete plans to achieve the vision
- Lack of a cohesive, high-trust team
I’ll dig into these in my next three blogs.