The Olympic Question: Are We Doing What Only We Can Do?
The opportunity to watch the best athletes in the world as the 2020/21 Summer Olympic Games unfold in Japan shortly, gives us an opportunity to learn from the world's best; not only in the arena of competitive sports, but in the arena of "doing what we do best."
Long-distance runners are not sprinters; shot-putters are generally not pole-vaulters (at least not good ones!); gymnasts are not basketball players for a reason and vice-versa (can you imagine LeBron James attempting the Korbut Flip on a four-inch-wide balance beam?)
Each athlete does what he or she is exceptional at doing.
Which means somewhere along the line, every athlete has to say, "This is my sport. This is my ability. This is my event. This is what I will concentrate on." Imagine how healthier and more effective our churches and organizations would be if we employed the same strategy!
Here are four areas which might help your church or ministry hone its collective efforts to giving God a gold-medal effort:
- Determine your congregational personality and strengths.And yes, your church has both! (Often the church's personality reflects that of its senior leader ... and that person isn't necessarily the senior pastor.) What is the make-up of the congregation? At what are the people exceptional at doing? What do the people see as their strengths?
I have noticed that in some churches certain spiritual gifts are more prevalent than others. Once these are determined, find, implement, and begin ministries that fit your patterns and collective gifts. You are then working from your strengths.
- Work within the parameters of your purpose statement.A good purpose statement provides direction, gives insight, clarifies objectives and set boundaries. It not only sets the course for what a church or ministry will do, it will also set the course for what a church will not or cannot do. Which leads to ...
- Choosing the best over the good.As a larger church, LCCis often presented with opportunities for ministry originating with well-intentioned people from within, as well as from without, the congregation. Our task as leaders is to then ask, "Does this fit our mission? Although this is good, is it the best for us right now?"
Asking these questions means that sometimes we say yes; sometimes we say no. It's tough to say no to a good ministry or group. But when the church says yes to everything which is good, that means there will be less energy, focus, and finances to say yes to the exceptional opportunities.
- Think down the road, but not too far.I remember times in ministry when our leadership sat around tables over an entire weekend and sketched out ten-year plans. Few things make me laugh harder nowadays.
Cultural and societal changes move at such a rapid pace now that long-range planning can be defined as three years at the most. Have an idea of where you want your church or ministry to go, but don't allow yourself to be boxed in. Allow room for a change of direction, major tweaking, or a complete change of focus when warranted. Neighborhoods, economies, families - even nations - can change dramatically within ten years.
Churches should be able to as well.
Answer the questions from point number one.
Is there an organizational purpose statement that people know and understand? Does it need to be honed or tweaked? Does it need to be re-stated?
Am I choosing the best over the good?
How far out can I realistically and strategically plan?