My five year old grandson is playing soccer for the second year. He did well last year, too, but this year he is clearer about where his team’s goal is located. He made more goals last year than any other player on his team -- though a fair number counted for the other team. This year he knows what a win for his team means and all the goals he’s kicking have been toward his team’s end of the field. Making clear what a win will be for your team is one of the key functions of leadership. Is your team clear what a win for them will look like? Can they define success
If you are planning a Vacation Bible School, you need to define your win. Is it a win to just have a VBS regardless of how many or who comes or what they do? Do you want to involve children who are not part of your congregation? Do you want them to continue coming to the church after VBS is over? Do you want them to learn about being a disciple of Jesus? How do you know when your VBS is over if you had a successful VBS or not? What are you aiming at – so you will know if you hit it?
If you are hiring a youth director, you need to define what a win will look like for their ministry. Do you expect the youth group to grow in number? Do you expect it to pull in youth who are not already part of the congregation? Do you expect youth to grow in their dedication to Jesus Christ as evidenced by their prayer life, worship attendance and willingness to serve others? Do you expect the youth group to stay to themselves or to be involved in the wider church family’s activities, too? If you are unclear what success will look like now, after a year or so, you will have no way of deciding whether the new youth director has done his or her job well or not.
At our recent Annual Conference in Lakeland, delegates accepted the proposal of the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) defining what a win for the Florida Conference will be over the next four years. A missional win for us will involve:
} Disciples who are becoming more like Jesus
} Congregations where all people find welcome
} Communities being blessed with Kingdom impact
} Conference Structures centered on fulfilling our mission
In the next several blog posts I’d like to talk about what this suggests for congregations specifically. The SLT has done us a great service by making clearer what it means to have a winning congregation, missionally speaking. Least we work hard at kicking goals toward the wrong end of the field, we need to be clear about what a success for us looks like at the local level.
So, for example, it may not be a win to:
· Have all the events and programs again this year that we are used to having previously.
· Keep our members cared for and reasonably satisfied.
· Maintain our facilities.
· Pay all our bills.
While there is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, they do not describe a win for congregations missionally. A winning congregation is one in which:
· People are becoming more like Jesus.
· The diversity of persons in your community are finding welcome.
· And the community is impacted by ministry that changes people’s lives positively.
The challenge for leaders, lay and clergy, in every congregation is to prayerfully discern what it would look like specifically for them if these three statements were true of their congregation. Four years from now, if Christ asks how your congregation is doing, will you be able to say, “We’re winning for you, Lord!”?
In the next three blog posts, I’ll be looking at each of these three expectations for congregations.
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Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence