People will change only if they believe that a new insight, a new idea, or a new form helps them become more of who they are. – Margaret J. Wheatley(Leadership and the New Science, 2nd edition (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1999), 148.)
Bob Farr, in his book Renovate or Die: Ten Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission, states “When you renovate something, you have a pretty clear picture of what you want the end product to look like.” (p.67) Without that end product in mind how can you achieve what you hope to achieve. An athlete already knows what she hopes to achieve. If a volleyball player has a dream to win the gold in the Olympics that is the end product of her hopes and dreams. From there she can back up to understand what steps it will take to achieve her goal.
In Bob Farr’s book Renovate or Die: Ten Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission he explains how churches need to approach ministry to their community. This was an eye opener and gave me language to use as I move my congregation forward.
What Farr does is explains the difference between a church’s values and its strategies. Here is his definitions of both: “A value is something of the heart and a strategy is a method for carrying out the value.” (p.52) He goes on to give the example of Sunday School. Sunday School is not a value it is a strategy. “The value is to teach children and adults life teachings of Jesus.” (p.52) That is the core value of why Sunday School is done. Does that mean to keep the value the same it has to happen during the 10:00am Sunday school hour? Does that mean the value can stay the same but small groups are started at people’s homes instead of at church?
This was my ‘eureka’ moment. People cherish the values and they are wonderful values we need in our local churches. But people confuse the strategy for the value all the time. What some congregations even do is they take a beloved strategy and melt it down into a golden calf. These strategies turn into sacred cows that they worship. Defining values and strategies is so important to both the congregation and the minister/staff. We need to look at our core values and the strategies we use to implement them.
Let’s take worship for example. I would say the value of worship is a time to gather together to glorify God through music, God’s Word, offerings, and the message. How this is accomplished is the strategy. One strategy to accomplish this is the Order of the Word found in the beginning of the hymnal and led by a beautiful pipe organ. Another strategy is a modern worship service with a band which plays for 30 minutes before the preacher/teacher comes out to give the message. Both accomplish the same value but two different strategies are implemented. Is one better than the other? NO because they both accomplish the same value.
Recently my wife and my kindergartner got in an argument on who to write a lower case ‘a’. My wife and I learned that you make a circle and then draw a line down on the right side. My son learned to draw a magical c and then a line down the side. His ended up looking more like a ‘d’ and that is what we were trying to remedy. Now whether you use a ‘o’ or a magical ‘c’ to write an ‘a’ doesn’t matter. Those are the strategies being used. The value is that a pencil is hitting paper and a legible ‘a’ is written (the value).
I have started to look at the ministries of my church with different eyes. What is my congregations core values? What are our current strategies we are using? Which strategies have turned into golden calves? What strategies may we do differently to keep our values going?
Delicious food for thought.
In 2008 I wrote a post after reading a book by John Maxwell. In the book, Developing the Leaders Around You, he gives 25 questions to assess the leadership around you. As I am approaching the 4th quarter of my first year of this appointment, I stumbled on this post. It is worth a read because it gives some keys to identifying great leaders verses emerging leaders.
Too often in the local church we place emerging leaders in places where great leaders are needed. Emerging leaders have passion and a lot of heart but may not have all the skills needed to follow through with a project or task. Especially in the UM system which demands working within a structure/polity, it may be too much for emerging leaders to tackle.
The ability to name where leaders are in their growth is beneficial because it provides a way to name the abilities of your leadership. There is nothing wrong with emerging leaders, but they need coaching. Great leaders and even good leaders can be left alone to use their talents and gifts but guidance is needed for those honing their leadership abilities.
As Chairpersons of the Nominations Committees of our churches, leadership assessment tools are great assets to have in our tool box. Please read (link above) it can be enlightening.