Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It takes the right vision - Church and Big Decisions

In what today seems like years ago I learned a lesson that I have never forgotten. Vision is easy. But the right vision is never easy! In leading a church this may be the most difficult lesson of all to apply. And I am still learning this lesson with every day that passes. Vision in itself is exciting and prioritizing. But Vision can also be the downfall of one's ministry; personally and corporately.

Getting the right vision and seeing the vision realized requires many smaller visions to complete. Beginning with implementation one's vision can can either shine or go bust. This has become one the BIG stumbling blocks in our day. When a leader and team begin to understand the vision that God gives, excitement often leads to a premature roll out and careless neglect of time for growth among the people. We force when we ought to grow. We forget that it took time for God to get His vision in our hearts and thus time for others to grasp from the Lord is equally required.

Odd to me is the growing and promoted idea that I often hear from Pastors that church members need to follow the vision of the leadership. Little emphasis is given to the sharing of the vision and the depth needed in the sharing process. A leader must lead. Forcing and pushing is NOT leadership. In our recent events, we actually were forced to go slow due to negotiations and availability of land. Yet when the time came, much effort was placed and time was further extended to allow for the sharing and grasping of the vision by the people. No one on our staff but me had ever been involved in this type of presentation and I will be the first to admit that I humanly struggled with the idea of taking more time. I was eager. My staff was eager. Three years of hunting and working had passed. The lay leaders where chomping at the bit. Two votes by the church had already occurred to allow the search and to spend the funds for due diligence. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that there had been enough time and enough talk. Just get it done was often the thought running through my head! But that approach could have (would have) killed what God desired.

I listened a few weeks ago to Dr. Ronnie Floyd share the story of how the name change occurred in Springdale to Cross Church. In his presentation to the church he stated the fact that he himself was the one to slow the change down. That was refreshing. Timing and roll out must never be over looked. Lay leaders may be on board (as ours were - all 54) but still the whole of the congregation needs time. The vision must be refined and often the laity are Gods tool for refinement.

Transparency and understanding require work and patience. I wonder why we in leadership so easily skip over the multiple verses in the Bible that explain these traits. Even Galatians makes it clear that long suffering is one quadrant of the Fruit of the Spirit. I learned during this latest process that patience just might be one of the biggest issues we Pastors face. The battle within me waged daily over moving quickly. Discussions with leaders and all laity were almost redundant to me. The pull of Satan to trip me up at this point was for me a major struggle. It helped to refresh my spirit in the area of spiritual warfare and it reminded me that as a leader, it really does rise and fall at the top.

We took the time to make sure all were included and had ample opportunity to hear, experience, pray and seek the Will of God. We knew we could accomplish what was needed. But more important to us as a staff and key lay leaders was the understanding that a church is all about God and His work in the lives of people. We had no choice but to give Him time to work. The result was an incredible move of God that no man could produce. Is that not what it is suppose to be like?

Our smaller visions in presentations, time to absorb, question and answer sessions, and most of all prayer times bore a peaceful, spiritual atmosphere that resulted in the big vision being overwhelming approved with little negative. No one has left the church mad. No one has been cut out. No one has been told to "trust us". God is working and as a result we are seeing people saved and joining His church during a time that many hide out in fear waiting for the implosion.

Remember, this church had built nothing, done upkeep on little, and had little hope of survival for over 57 years. There was history of "bad" meetings over smaller things. This church is what many young Pastors speak of in ultra negative tones and descriptions. I was even told NOT to take the position. Yet in the last 4 years it has now begun a new contemporary service, leased and shared the old facilities with another church of another denomination, over hauled the Children's Ministry and now voted to relocate - none of which were on the radar at all 4 1/2 years ago. Only God could do what has occurred here. And for that I more than thankful!

Next post: God's Vision is People!

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