By Jon Wright, Effective Ministry Strategist with Generis
Whether it’s your car’s steering, your lower back or your kid’s teeth; each of the above professions are trained in the art of alignment.
You hit a pothole, you reach too far into the dryer for that last sock, or simple genetics; we all have need for the occasional alignment.
Our churches are the same.
There are constant shifts in our staff team, our congregation, and our community. We wake up one morning (probably a Monday) and everything just feels “off.”
We need an adjustment.
How do churches get out of alignment?
A few examples:
Staff: A well-loved staff member retires or takes a new call. The new team member comes with their own experience, style, and vision. They are well intentioned but different in how they think about and “do” ministry. You are out of alignment.
Congregation: Your vision is to reach people far from God. Your church is now full of people that know God and have strong preferences regarding what the church “should” do for them. Your activities and programs reflect the desires of those already “inside” and your mission to reach those “outside” is compromised. You are out of alignment.
Community: When you arrived, the neighborhood was 60% empty-nesters and single people. That was 20 years ago. The community has turned over and is now full of young families and professionals, but your ministry hasn’t changed. You are out of alignment.
Misalignment undermines staff health, diminishes engagement, and decreases impact and investment.
The mechanic employs wrenches, hammers, and brute strength to get a car to drive smoothly down the road. The chiropractor applies a series of quick and forceful snaps to move vertebrae to their proper position. The orthodontist uses less pressure but significantly more time to align the molars and incisors for that perfect smile.
Similar to our well-trained friends, we need the appropriate tools and strategies to bring about alignment in our churches. The first step is to determine which method will be the most effective. This is not the same as which is least painful.
Staff: (Chiro: Quick, forceful snap!) Set aside weekly time (this week!) to study the Word and pray as a team. Unfortunately, many church teams do not read the Word or pray together on a regular basis! “Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain who try to build it!” Spiritual work requires spiritual resources. Recast mission and vision, listen to what they are seeing and sensing in their areas of ministry, and make the necessary adjustments. Again, make the adjustments, don’t just talk about it.
Congregation: (Ortho: Less pressure, more time) S l o w l y invite and introduce new ministry “ideas and experiments” while decreasing attention on the things “we’ve always done.” New leaders will emerge, new ministries will flourish, new investment will flow. People gravitate toward what you celebrate!
Community: (Mechanic: Wrenches and hammers) Make some noise, let them know you’re there! It’s likely they don’t! Engage local schools, food shelves, homeless shelters. Offer helpful, practical classes on parenting, finances, and marriage. Start where they are and move them toward the Gospel. This will be messy and uncomfortable. You will get your hands dirty, but it will get you driving straight down the road to life-changing community impact!
Alignment is not a “one and done” activity. It requires constant attention and adjustment, but the benefits are significant. Your staff will be motivated, your congregation will be fully engaged, and your community will be transformed by the power of a church on mission.
As we head into 2020, let’s commit to realigning our churches around God’s priorities, not our preferences, to serve God’s glory, not our goals.
For a free assessment on your church’s effectiveness and alignment, take this quick (and fun) survey: https://generis.com/effective-ministry-assessment
Jon Wright has worked as an entrepreneur and Executive Pastor. He brings to the Generis team 30 years experience in innovation and execution in multiple settings; corporate, non-profit, church, and global missions. He is passionate about the local church and serves the to create healthy, dynamic teams that lead growing and effective ministry.