Over the years I have been privileged to work with many churches – both from the inside as a staff member, and from the outside as a consultant. One of the things I’ve learned through this process is that church leaders need to invest the time, energy, focus and prayer to discover their unique God-given DNA – God’s thumbprint for their church. I once heard Carey Nieuwhof say they need to wrestle it to the ground. This is a perfect analogy because it is NOT an easy process. But once settled, it provides the foundation for building a thriving, God-honoring local church.
Churches need to first decide WHO they are – who God has created them (as a local church) to be. Then they need to decide what matters most – their core values. This provides the WHY behind what they do. Many leaders already know this. But then what should they do?
Andy Stanley says that in many churches smart people get together in a room and create a great vision statement… and then everyone goes back to work. Nothing changes. Why? There is no alignment behind the vision. Only an intentional course of action will keep this from happening.
The next step is for them to analyze everything their church does in light of the fruit it produces. They need to honestly ask themselves whether or not each of these things actually moves the church toward the WHO and WHY. (see John 15:2)
- Everything that DOESN’T fit these two things needs to be eliminated. (Branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off – there is no mercy.)
- Everything that DOES fit these two things needs to be evaluated. (Branches that do bear fruit are pruned to make them even more fruitful.)
This is a painful process. But it is absolutely necessary to avoid sideways energy and mission drift. Your church isn’t called to do everything. It’s called to do certain things… and in order for your church to please God and fulfill its mission, you need to focus on doing them well.
I wrote a follow-up post to this one called Common Sense Metrics. It examines how to measure forward progress toward our vision.
What steps do you take to analyze what your church does in light of its mission, vision, core values and strategy?