I’m not sure where I read it, but Nelson Searcy said, “Your church is not realizing as much of its potential as it could.” This can be off putting depending on your view of the church and your view of leadership. If pastors and church members are honest, most churches are not realizing their potential. They are not doing all that God is calling them to, they are not as healthy as they could be and they are not seeing the growth in people that they could.
Often, it isn’t intentional, they are just allowing church to happen to them. They are working in the church.
In his book Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, Andy Stanley says one of the most important things for a pastor to do is work on the church. This is different than working in the church.
Work on it means that to maintain your relevance, your sanity, and your effectiveness, you must carve out time in your schedule to step back and evaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it.
Many churches do this on Monday when they look back on the weekend and evaluate things based off what is the win for them. How they evaluate it will vary. Some questions I ask myself are:
- What did God do that we can celebrate?
- Was it Christ centered?
- Was everything clear? Would someone without a church background know what we were doing at all times?
- Was it relevant to everyone who came?
- Did we help people take their next step? Was that next step obvious?
- Did everyone who was on stage, taught, led and volunteered, did they bring their best?
This is helpful and something that should be done weekly.
One area that many pastors fail to work on their church is the bigger picture. This is why a summer preaching break is so helpful. The summer is the ideal time for this as you get ready to head into the fall ministry season, hit the holidays and then roll into the new year. The summer is a reset time in many ways.
Here are some questions to ask for your organization:
- Are we doing anything that does not help us accomplish our vision?
- What size are we right now? If we doubled in the next year, what would we stop doing? What will we start doing when we reach twice our size?
- What things are keeping us from growing?
- What systems need to be changed or fixed to maintain health as we grow?
- How can the preaching calendar help us take the next step as a church?
- Do we need to replace any leaders as we grow because we have reached their lids? What can do to help expand their leadership lids?
Working on the church is not just about evaluating the organization and ministry of the church. Pastors and leaders also need to spend some time looking at their own hearts, leadership abilities and lives.
Here are some personal questions to ask:
- How is my energy level? How do I recharge before the fall season?
- What do I need to put into place so that I don’t burnout in the next year?
- What areas do I need to grow as a leader so that I can help lead the church in this next season (each year I focus on an area of my job that I want to grow in and read or get coaching in that area)?
- Is God calling our church to anything new in the coming year?
- Am I wasting my energy or time in any area of my life?
- Am I keeping appropriate boundaries with social media?
- Where do my deepest frustrations come from? What can I do immediately about them?
- What is the single most important thing to do or decide to do right now to achieve my life vision and the vision for our church?
- How am I failing to give my best time and energy to my family? What changes do I need to make immediately about this?
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