An Important Look into Your Church’s Culture – Part 3

In this series of blogs, we are focusing attention on the hardest places–churches that are seldom addressed in most of the church health literature. These are places where strong leaders seldom go, energetic people seldom stay, and new days simply don’t dawn. So, year after year, the pages of the church calendar find a way to be flipped, but stories of impact are primarily told elsewhere.

In our third installment, let’s consider a bit more about targets. We said last time that finding what you CAN do or what God has designed you to do is an important step. But honestly, sometimes even that can be a puzzling journey.

So, let’s start with a question. How would you finish this statement?

“I wish we were more                     .”

Now before you overload that small blank with dozens of ideas, here are the ground rules. First, you can’t put something in there that your current congregation cannot achieve. For example, “I wish we were more musical…or more talented…or more wealthy” are all off-limits. Wishing for what you don’t have or for people you don’t have doesn’t get you anywhere (you already knew that). Instead, focus the question on something you can become together.

How about, “I wish we were more friendly…more open to outsiders…more active in our community.” Now, you get the idea. What you’re doing is taking a first step toward a new day by becoming people you may not have been. This is vision–describing today what we hope to reach tomorrow (actually it’ll take a bit longer).

Now, be careful here. Don’t aim for the moon on this first step forward. Instead start a bit smaller. Choose something important, but not something that make take years to achieve.

In the first year of our effort to revitalize the church I pastored, I determined that we would learn to love each other. Our bigger dream was to love a lot of other people, but I figured if we couldn’t do a bit better with what we already had, those future folks might not receive much better. And, our little group of good folks had a bit of a history of missteps with each other. So, I targeted an entire year of Sunday evenings for this focus. I preached love and we practiced love. Some services ended with us praying together, others ended with us telling our life stories to one another. Several ended with us eating together–something we were already pretty good at.

The point is–our target was something that mattered and something designed to reshape us (not something designed to grow our church). Of course, every success we had began to effect everything about our church. While we were trying to love each other, God started bringing us other people to love too, and we found ourselves well underway toward our new day.

Once you decide what that first target will be, there’s a critical next step–and we’ll tackle that step in our next installment.

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