Reframe your church's future

By Jim LaDoux
In his book, The Five Most Important Questions, author Peter Drucker helps leaders focus on what matters most and to gain clarity about what to say “yes” to and when to say “no.” When helping church leaders envision a preferred future, I use Drucker's questions to help frame our conversations. Here’s a summary of the questions found within his book:

1  |  What is our mission?

What is the reason for our existence? What is the current mission? Can our leaders and ministry partners recite it to members? Can leaders explain what it means to their next door neighbor? What are the challenges or vexing problems we’re seeking to address? How is what we're doing changing lives for the good of the world? Some church's mission statements can be summed up in a tagline. Some statements highlight key words and phrases.  Mission statements usually stay the same for a long period of time. How it's lived out may vary greatly as new practices, processes, procedures, strategies and structure are used to implement the mission.

2  |  Who are we seeking to serve?

Is it just who comes to the congregation and participates in its ministries?  Does it include the local community, and if so, how far away? Have you considered how the people you’re seeking to serve have changed in the last few decades? How well do you know the people you’re seeking to serve? Given the opportunities for creating digital campuses, is geography as important as it used to be?

3  |  What do the people we serve value?

What do the people we are seeking to serve value? What do we believe about what they value and how do we find out if what we believe is accurate? If we don't know what they value and believe, what's our plan for finding out. Churches must find ways to listen deeply and continuously if they are to address the needs of their "neighbors" and explore emerging opportunities.

4  |  What are our results?

A congregation’s results are always measured in changed lives and changed conditions – in people’s behavior, circumstances, health, hopes, and capacities.  Leaders should be continuously asking:
  • What are our results?
  • What did we say and do that contributed to these results?
  • What does the transformation we’re offering look like and how does it benefit people?
  • What must we keep doing, stop doing or start doing in the future to get better results? 
  • In what ways are these results connected to our primary purpose?
The results our efforts produce must be sufficiently transformative for us to justify putting our resources in this area of ministry. Are your leaders willing to consider that there might be better, easier, faster ways to get the same results?

5  |  What's our plan? Goals? Next faithful  step?

Church leaders create plans for moving forward. Keeping the big picture in mind, they set short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, with extreme clarity about what needs to happen next, and by whom. Well-designed plans help leaders move forward, faster. Just as a sailboat tacks several times on its way to its final destination, a plan needs to be reviewed regularly so that constant course corrections can be made. Every good plan helps leaders address these three questions:
  • What  . . .  (do we do; our primary purpose)
  • So what . . .(why does it matter)
  • Now what . . . (what's our next step)


1 | Which of these five questions do your leaders need to discuss?  
2 | Which question do YOU need to pay attention to right now?

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