We live in an era of church specialists, from the specialist on your church staff to the specialist sending advertisements about their new product to your inbox each day. While this has created access to virtually unlimited possibilities for the church, it has also produced an unexpected side effect. We’re losing the ability of what I call “big picture” thinking – the ability to look at the overall health and direction of the church. So, we order that new program, or run to that new seminar, thinking it is the solution to why our church isn’t growing. However, program after program doesn’t seem to fix the problems that we are experiencing, and in some cases, actually makes them worse.
There is a solution.
Let me illustrate. Back in the mid 1990’s my wife and I flew to Ohio to interview for a youth ministry position at a local church. The pastor and his wife picked us up at the airport and proceeded to drive us to the church. On the way, I noticed a dog along side the highway. With a laser focus, he began crossing the highway, heading to the middle divider wall. I watched as he successfully crossed the first lane, then the second, and finally the third lane of traffic. It seemed as if he didn’t even notice the danger that he was in as cars rushed past him at high rates of speed.
Then, he entered the fourth lane – our lane. At the very last moment, he looked straight at me as I was seated in the passenger seat. It seemed as though time slowed and he stared hopelessly into my eyes, just before we hit him and sent him sliding to his death. The pastor had no where to go. Due to the high volume of traffic, he could not swerve or apply the brakes. There was absolutely nothing that could be done to avoid this tragic accident.
As I’ve reflected upon that incident many times over the years since, I keep thinking about the “big picture.” The dog was focused on the one thing that he thought would be the solution to his problem of crossing the busy highway. He didn’t take into account the high volume of traffic, the number of lanes he needed to cross, the speed of the vehicles, or even the concrete median that he would have to climb over. So many times, churches and leaders look at the next seminar or program as the solution to their problem. While it may be a part of the overall solution, a “big picture” view looks at the entire church to see what programs or seminars or ideas may be needed. Then, and only then, do we seek out the resources and tools to help us fulfill that big picture.
This is where coaching and consulting comes in. I have been a part of a coaching network for almost the past decade. Having seen the benefits that this has provided to both my personal growth and to the church that I pastor, I decided to provide this blog as a site to encourage “big picture” thinking. So, I’ll be posting about a “big picture” strategy that I am calling Hand-2-Hand Strategic Church Leadership. Join me on the journey into “big picture” thinking. And, if you are in need of a coach or consulting, I’d love to see how I can help your church. Click here for how to get in touch with me.
So, let’s start the discussion. What do you see as the difficulties in thinking “big picture?” Post your comments below.