3 Strategies to Lead Your Church Where You Want it to Go

Posted by Aaron Buer on July 14, 2022

I’m old enough to remember learning to drive without Google Maps. Back in the day we used to just get lost and then we had to figure out where we were.

It often involved stopping at a gas station and asking for directions or pulling out that giant atlas that your dad made you pack in your car.  

These days you connect your phone and a voice magically tells you when to take the next turn.

Wouldn’t it be nice, in leadership, if someone’s voice would just tell you how to get to where you want to go? You know where you want your ministry or church to end up but you’re not quite sure how to get there. You need a map.  

Let’s talk about how to get the ministry or church that you lead to where you want to go because often this involves convincing other people to join you as you travel to your destination.

Here are 3 strategies for getting your ministry or church to where you want to go.

Paint a Picture

If you want to get your kids excited about a summer vacation destination, you can try to explain where you are going.

Or, you can show them a picture of Pikes Peak or the Grand Canyon. A good picture generates much more excitement. The same principle applies in leadership.

What does “there” look like?  Where exactly do you want to take your ministry or church?  It’s important that you paint a very clear picture of where you want to end up because the leaders and volunteers around you can’t read your mind.

Maybe your goal is around discipleship. What does a discipled person in your context look like? How would they think? What would they do? Paint a clear picture.  

If your goal is growth, what exactly does that growth look like? Is it a specific number of people? Is it a particular growth strategy? Campuses? Church plants? Paint a clear picture.  

Maybe you want to lead your church to transform your community. What would that actually look like? What would a transformed community look like? Would specific metrics change? Housing? Education? Mentorships? Whatever it is, paint a clear picture.  

My guess is that you are passionate about leading your ministry or church to a specific destination. If you want to get people on board and as passionate as you are about this destination, you have to paint a clear picture of where you are going.        


Create a Map 

Before leaving on any sort of long trip, it’s a really good idea to define the route. Back in the day, you would trace your finger along a map and perhaps write down the route.  

The same basic idea applies to leadership. Painting a clear picture of your destination is key, but you also have to help people understand how you are going to get there. What’s the roadmap for arriving at your destination?

It might be helpful to share an example roadmap. In our church, I had the privilege of leading our student ministry for several years. The destination we were aiming for with our students was this:  Students who are still following Jesus in their adult lives because they have grounded their identities in Christ

That was the clear picture we painted. What was the roadmap for getting there?   

We landed on three strategies:  

Life-Changing Truth 

Life-Changing Relationships

Life-Changing Experiences

We believe that a student who is grounding their identity in Jesus needs to engage with Scripture, which is why we constantly teach the Bible (Truth). We believe students need adult mentors to guide them and community to journey with (Relationships) and we believe that students need certain experiences to shake them up and alter their world view. These experiences would include serving, missions and retreats (Experiences).  

What about you?  Once you create a clear picture of where you are headed, you have to define how you’re going to get there. My advice here is to work collaboratively with your team to create a roadmap.  


Focus Your Attention

This last strategy can be painful. Here’s the basic idea: It’s going to be difficult to reach your destination if you get distracted or take detours to other interesting destinations.

Here’s why this idea is painful in ministry. There are a lot of good things going on in your church that have nothing to do with where you want to go as a church. In other words, there’s probably a bunch of stuff going on that’s never going to help you reach your destination.  

A challenging but helpful question to ask is: What doesn’t fit? In other words, once you bring clarity to your destination and map, what current ministries and practices do not align?

Are there roads on your map that don’t lead to your mission destination?  If there are, I would highly suggest that these ministries and practices be redirected or removed.  

Creating a map to your mission is difficult but fun. Implementing a map to your mission is difficult and not fun because it requires change.  

In my experience, ministries and churches that make a significant kingdom impact focus their time and attention around their specific vision and mission, which in reality, means there are a lot of things they don’t do so that they can focus all their resources around the few things that they must do.  

Wrap Up

God has called you and your specific church to a mission. Your community needs that mission! And imagine what your community would look like if the people of your church focused their energy and resources around that mission.  

I pray that this vision of transformation motivates and encourages you to keep bringing your best to leadership and ministry.  

If you've realized your church is growing in the wrong direction, but are unsure on where to start to turn things around. Check out this post here.

Topics: Advice

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