The Day I Changed the Way I Looked at the Church

The One Thing More Powerful Than Vision

Some time ago, I heard about an author Samuel R. Chand, and his book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration.  In his book, he discusses the concept that CULTURE is more powerful than VISION in leading a church.  He writes that a toxic culture in a church can keep it from fulfilling the vision that God has given to the church.  If that is true, and I believe that it is, then we, as church leaders, must deal with the problematic cultures in our churches BEFORE we can lead them forward in fulfilling the vision that God has given us for our churches.

While reading Dr. Chand’s book, I began looking at the church where I was currently the pastor.  We had been given a great vision for the church.  As we began pursuing that vision, we began to see the toxic culture of the church make itself evident.  What had been lurking just below the surface largely unnoticed, now was a full on attack against the vision that God had given to us.

Over time we navigated the change to the culture of our church.  People began to immediately notice the change.  Within 3 months our church had grown by 25% – during the summer months when church grow experts tell us that we cannot grow.

The bottom line – I was convinced that CULTURE really does trump VISION!  

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Discovering God’s Vision for Your Church

Vision Profile

The topic of discovering God’s vision for your church has been discussed time and again in numerous books, blog posts, and verbal conversations.  So, why bring it up again in yet another blog post?  I believe it is important because, even with the vast supply of resources on the topic, very few pastors and/or churches have a vision for their future.

I believe that many have been taught that vision is a mystical revelation from God.  So, we pray and wait.  We pray some more and wait some more.  The result is that most pastors have no vision for their church.  Add to this the truth of the scripture in Proverbs 29:18 regarding the lack of vision and we are hounded by the fact that if we can’t find a vision for our church, then the people will perish.   So, we pray some more and wait some more and most times come up empty, without a clear vision for the future of our church.

Is there a simpler way to discover God’s vision for your church that you can begin to implement right now?  The good news is…THERE IS!   

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3-Level Vision Planning

Planning

When I first began in ministry over 25 years ago, a lot of discussion within the church leadership setting centered around long-range vision planning.  We were taught that each church should set goals for what they want to accomplish over the next 20 years.  These goals were based upon the vision that God has given to your church and they enabled us to set milestones to accomplish 15 or 20 years into the future.

Most experts agree today that long-range vision planning in the church setting has at best become ineffective.  With our rapidly changing culture in America, long-range planning is outdated as soon as we begin implementing it.  Three to five years into our plan we discover that the long-range goals are no longer valid due to the rapid changes in our church and community.  So, how do we plan effectively in order to accomplish the vision that God has given to our church?

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The Strategic Church Leadership Process, Part 1

Strategic Church Leadership

In my previous post What is Strategic Church Leadership?, I discussed the need for an overall strategy for looking at the local church.  As pastors and church leaders, we need to set aside time in our schedules for Big Picture Thinking – looking at the church from an overall perspective.  Now, I want to begin to unpack the Strategic Church Leadership Process.  In this post, I will share the first two steps in the process and subsequent posts will share the remaining steps.  Here is the diagram that I use to explain all the steps in the process.

Strategic Church Leadership Process

Strategic Church Leadership Process

 

The process begins in the bottom right corner and progresses as you move up the right side of the mountain.  After reaching the peak, you journey back down the left side of the mountain.  Then, you move across the bottom of the mountain and begin climbing again at a deeper strategic level.  Thus, the process is an ongoing and deepening look at the strategy for the local church.

Step One:  CLARIFY THE CULTURE

This step takes a look at our current reality.  

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