I have learned a spiritual rule: Whenever my expectations for others cause me to treat them in a less than compassionate way, something is wrong with my expectations. This rule needs to be consistently applied whenever we act as church leaders. Before turning something sticky, like staff management, consider the following examples:
Lately I’ve been telling people that all authentic long range planning in the church is driven by two outward and upward forces or vectors — a vector is a force with both magnitude and direction: Vector 1) The drive to reach new people, and Vector 2) The organizational charge to nurture our faithful and make them into effective disciples for Christ. Any action plans or goals that we develop for our congregation must move in at least one of these directions. Hopefully our goals serve both vectors, for this is where the energy of the Holy Spirit and our faithfulness to the scriptures lies.
Recently, a wonderful family run restaurant near us went out of business. Even though they had great food, friendly service, and reasonable prices, they didn’t seem to have the wisdom or energy to adapt to how people were dining today. They sat on a side street with limited parking, they had an outdated but comfortable seating area, and an aging cliental of old friends. Obviously the deck was stacked against them. Or was it? One block over was a large hospital, filled with hungry workers and visitors who were tired of the cafeteria’s offerings. This restaurant, however, didn’t offer lunch or take out.
Reality Check begins with these three questions, each with an application intended to encourage abstract thought and open conversations among church leaders. The three questions are:
1) What is the real nature of the Church?
2) Where is society taking us?
3) How can we do God’s will?