Discerning God's intentions for our church
By Jim LaDoux
As leaders of churches, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of our congregations. We can become so focused on programs and initiatives that we forget to take a step back and discern God's intentions for our church. This is where visioning teams come in. By reviewing what's working and what's not, clarifying our purpose and identity, and rethinking where God is leading us, we can reinvent our church with a new road map for moving forward in faith.
Purpose of Visioning Teams for Churches
The purpose of a visioning team is to guide your church in discerning God's intentions for your congregation. The team's first goal is to REVIEW what's working and what's not, and to clarify the church's purpose, identity, and strengths, and challenges and then compile a report that summarizes its findings. The second goal is to gather members and leaders, typically at at Visioning Retreat, to RETHINK where the church is going and then reimagine reprioritize what the church will focus on, pay attention to, and invest in for the next 3-5 years. The third goal of the team is to help the church REINVENT itself by creating a written road map that clearly defines our next steps, key milestones, and our annual goals for each year. This road map is based on what the church has learned about itself through the visioning process and will be refined by church leaders and members before it becomes a working document that guides the work our paid staff, elected leaders and ministry teams.
Benefits of Visioning Teams
There are numerous benefits to creating a visioning team for your church. First and foremost, it allows you to take a step back and evaluate what is working and what is not. It helps the church identify strengths and weaknesses, which can then be addressed. Additionally, the team helps the church clarify its identity, purpose, and values. This is crucial to creating a strong church culture that is focused on Christ. Finally, the team helps the church create a realistic plan for moving forward. This roadmap
Tips for Creating a Visioning Team
Once a church creates a visioning team, it's important to share information about the team. Using the church's website, newsletters, worship bulletins, and social media platforms, share information about the congregation that includes:
- The actual name of the visioning team.
- The team's purpose and it's primary outcomes.
- Who's part of the team and when they meet.
- What roles individual members play - chair, communicator, etc.
- How long the team will meet (typically 1 year).
- The stages/phases of the visioning process (1-2 months to organize, 3-4 months to REVIEW, 2-3 months to RETHINK, and 3-5 months to REINVENT.
Informing the congregation about the REVIEW phase
It's important for the team to keep their congregation abreast of what of what phase of the visioning process they are in, and which key projects they entail. For example in the REVIEW process, the primary projects the visioning team usually oversees include:
- Conducting a congregational survey to check the pulse and passions of the church (share the date with the congregation).
- Interviewing paid, elected, and lay leaders.
- Gathering information about the church's history, it's current programs, and norms.
- Gathering information about the church's structure, decision-making, and management of program.
- Completing a demographic study of the surrounding community, and
- Interviewing community leaders about community needs, assets and ways the the community is changing.
- Creating a ministry dashboard that helps the church measure its ministry impact.
- Scheduling a date for the visioning retreat.
A visioning team is an invaluable tool for any church that is serious about discerning God's intentions and navigating the path forward with purpose and strength. By following the tips outlined here, you can create a strong team that will benefit your church for years to come. Remember to keep Christ at the center of your visioning process, and trust that He will lead you where He wants you to go.
QUESTIONS | APPLICATIONS
- How often does your church review it's mission, vision, values, and identity?
- Who is responsible for seeing that the mission is being fulfilled?
- Does your church have a ministry scorecard to help measure its impact/health?
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