Rarely is there a greater gap between expectation and actuality than what is found in a local church the year after a new mission statement has been adopted or a serious goal setting process performed. In vision casting there s a rule: the more time and consultant costs expended, the less the person in the pew cares. In the business world there is a word for this, Alignment. Where alignment exists, the objectives of the management are well known and the company’s mission statement has been adopted by the employees, so that folk are pulling together. The business world has an advantage, everyone is on the payroll and gets something tangible from knowing the goals and cooperating. In the local church, achieving alignment is like herding cats.
When goal setting fails in your church, lack of communication or some similar leadership miss-step will be blamed. Pastors always feel guilty the year after a consultant has taken mucho bucks to help their church discover its vision. The consultant’s last words are always, “the ball’s in your court now.” The consultant leaves, assuring everyone that the hard work has been done.
The truth is, not just is alignment harder to achieve in the non-profit organization, it is impossible to achieve in the church if the goals haven’t been obtained in the right way.
Where businesses can use the carrot and stick approach to force wayward cats to get with the program. Congregations have few legitimate tools to create alignment. People pull together when they have been consulted in the process of goal development, so consensus needs to be utilized early and often in the development church goals. Family ties and the positive sense of belonging are major factors in motivating stray committees and local church leaders to support an objective.
The big factor for alignment, that needs always to be kept in mind, is how a particular goal lines up with the faith that people hope to strengthen and live out of while associated with this congregation. Theology can’t be added in after the fact. Goals must arise out of our prayer life and shared sense of mission. This takes a lifetime to achieve.
Instead of beating ourselves up about how we have failed to implement the recently adopted goals, we should concentrate on helping the church become healthy in its leadership process and more passionate in its faith.