A Tale of Two Leaders

 by Tim Woodroof and Jon Mullican – 

Who you will be ten years from this moment will be determined by what you choose to do in this moment. Today is the seedbed of tomorrow. And tomorrow is closer than you think.

Imagine two leaders from different churches reading this chapter at the same time. Both love their churches and want them to thrive. Both are sincere, committed, thoughtful followers of Jesus. Can you see these leaders in your mind’s eye?

This chapter resonates with one of these leaders. He “gets” the importance of vision. He realizes how critical a clear vision will be for the future of his church. He is convinced his congregation has a call from God, should be on a mission from God, and that it is critical it is for the church to hear and pursue God’s calling. He wants his church to do a few things well, to focus on key and primary ministries, to value depth of impact over breadth of impact. And he knows only a clear vision and a disciplined commitment to that vision can keep a congregation on track for the long run.

So, two days after reading this chapter himself, he shares the chapter with his fellow leaders and invites them to read as well—read and prepare to discuss. He requests that next week’s elder/minister meeting be dedicated to a discussion of the church’s vision. In that meeting, he asks some difficult questions:

  • Where are we going as a church?
  • Are we pursuing God’s vision for our church?
  • Can we see the church God wants us to be?
  • If we could only support three ministries, which would we choose?
  • Are we willing to focus our efforts and attentions for greater impact?
  • Are our members unified in their understanding of where God wants us to go as a church?

The discussion following these questions proves to be difficult, enlightening, and convicting. It is evident to everyone around the table that—as a group—they have not valued vision as they should, they have not cast a compelling vision to the church, and, while the church is involved in many good things, they have not led their members to focus on best things. They recognize in their members the beginning symptoms of fatigue and stagnation caused by a lack of vision and focus. They are honest with each other about declining levels of involvement in and excitement about the church’s ministries. They confess concern to each other about the long-term impact of this decline.

What emerges from this attention to vision is a common sense of clarity about who this church is, how it is equipped, where it is going, and what God expects it to accomplish.

Years later, this meeting will be remembered as a turning point for the church. As a result of this come-to-Jesus discussion about vision, more time is dedicated to prayer, study, and conversation on the subject. The leadership group reads through some challenging resources. They broaden the discussion by including church members. They make a few phone calls and find someone experienced and skilled in leading churches through the visioning process. They set aside an initial weekend … then another … and another.

What emerges from this attention to vision is a common sense of clarity about who this church is, how it is equipped, where it is going, and what God expects it to accomplish. The church learns to focus. Members see how their ministry matters. A renewed involvement and a refreshed enthusiasm results. The trajectory for the next decade is set by a courageous act of visioning. It makes all the difference for the church’s future.

The other leader resonates with this chapter as well. He also “gets” the importance of vision. But as he sets the chapter aside, his cell phone chirps and a church member shares her frustrations with the children’s program. Next Wednesday night, he has committee meetings before and after class time (a class he teaches!). The church is presently involved in a capital campaign (the building needs a new roof) and that effort seems to dominate everyone’s time and energy. Besides, his business is particularly demanding just now—he doesn’t have much bandwidth left for pushing a vision discussion.

Vision. Does your church have it? Will you, having read this chapter, do something with what you’ve read? Or will you set the chapter aside … just for now … just until things calm down?

He sets aside this chapter, fully intending to take it up again and begin the vision discussion when things calm down. Days become weeks. Weeks become months. The urgent keeps crowding out the important. The meeting remembered as a turning point for the church never happens. The dialogue so vital for establishing vision doesn’t occur.

Vision. Does your church have it? Will you, having read this chapter, do something with what you’ve read? Or will you set the chapter aside … just for now … just until things calm down?

Who you will be ten years from this moment will be determined by what you choose to do in this moment. Today is the seedbed of tomorrow. And tomorrow is closer than you think.

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