Your church doesn’t need a new mission. God determines the mission. He defines the mission. And he’s been about the mission for thousands of years and simply wants your church involved in it. But your church is in desperate need of a vision that is informed by God’s Word, inspired by God’s Spirit, and applied passionately and broken-heartedly to your local context.
If you’re a Lead (Senior) Pastor and you don’t have a vision for how your church will carry out its mission in your local context, here’s my advice: Get away with Jesus! Take a retreat. Meet with some mentors. Read the word. Drive around your community and beg God to paint a picture in your mind of what could be if the gospel took root and sprouted all over the place.
Every ministry leader needs to cultivate a vision for their ministry context, but Lead Pastors are out front, setting the pace. God has chosen you to lead his sheep on a rescue mission for other lost sheep.
Once you’re a leader with a vision from God of what should be, it’s on to step two. Get mean.
No, this is not an admonition to stop loving people or to become selfish and egocentric. Rather it’s a challenge to stand with conviction and communicate strongly what God has made clear to you as a leader.
My friend and coach, Shawn Lovejoy, just released his new book on the subject simply called Be Mean About the Vision: Relentlessly Pursuing What Matters. Here’s how he defines this…
Being “mean” about the vision is being intentional about the vision. It’s purposefully protecting the vision over time. Being mean about the vision is living it out daily in our lives, keeping our hearts focused and aligned with it. It’s communicating that vision with clarity and energy. Being mean is moving in a consistent direction, and recognizing when the vision begins to drift. When you’re mean about the vision, you will also protect it at all costs. You won’t allow what I call “vision hijackers”—people who want to derail the vision—to throw things off course. When you’re mean about the vision, you’ll intentionally keep the vision as the epicenter of all you are and all you do.
I know leaders who, right now, need to take the big risk of upsetting, offending, and even losing people for the right reasons. Four thousand more churches will close this year. A few will do so because of changing demographics, but most will close because they’ve spent too many years focusing inwardly, refusing to change the way they communicate. And often, these churches full of good people are led by good people who simply won’t dare to push the boundaries.
And I’ve been there. Looking back over twenty years of ministry, I can spot moments when I folded, when I ignored issues, when I gave into the vocal minority and slowed our progress. Those are the moments when stagnation occurred. And I can also see moments when I pushed forward and stood up for the vision God had given me. Those are the moments when growth happened.
Here’s my challenge to any leader who feels stuck…
You’re the leader! God has called you to this! He’s given you an assignment that involves the expansion of his kingdom in the community around you. Lost people are going to hell without the good news and your church has the saving message they desperately need. You don’t need to be a bully, but you do need to take the risk of leading forward, confidently, even at the cost of being misunderstood, criticized, and maybe even ousted.
What do you have to lose? Determine to get to God’s throne without the regret of missed opportunities to bring more people into his family!
Brandon is a coach for CourageToLead.com. He serves as the church planter and lead pastor of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas and online editor of Pastors.com. He lives with his wife, Angie, and together, they have three children.