“What do I do?” The question loads a pastor’s credit card with conference registrations and larger bookshelves as the man or woman of God seeks desperately for direction in this often awkward task of leading the Church. I call it awkward because it’s not really like any other leadership role in our culture–greatness equals servitude, the humility of being unseen so a Greater One can be seen, and the best employees are volunteers. But…all that is for another day…
The question of what to do may best be answered in a series of four other questions–where, who, why, and how. In our last entry we tackled the first of these, exploring the myriad of potential questions wrapped up in a “where,” and the extraordinary importance of looking for those answers. Now let’s consider the “who” of our setting.
The “who” question sets my eyes on faces–faces in my congregation, faces on my street corners, faces in “that part of town,” even the face in my mirror. Who are we? You see, figuring out what God wants you to do can only happen when you’re looking at what He’s looking at–AND HE’S LOOKING AT PEOPLE!
One of the reasons that the brilliance which packed someone else’s church building won’t work inside your four walls is that, well, the faces are different. Those “go to” moves that took your last church to a new level likely won’t have the same effect either. There’s nothing “cookie-cutter” about congregations. They bring a completely unique set of abilities, passions, experiences, and struggles into your gatherings each week so any attempt to plug-and-play wisdom developed somewhere else will likely miss the mark.
The faces in your community are different too. You likely discovered that while answering the “where” question, didn’t you? Needs may look similar, but the closer you get, the more those finer differences come into view. Remember that the path to impacting this place will combine leader passion, congregational ability, and community need. All three of those are found in the unique faces and lives of those in this equation. If you try to solve the “what” of your ministry playbook before really getting to know the “who” that surround you, you’re a bit like a basketball coach that designs his offense before he sees his team. It just won’t work and both practices and game times will only bring frustration to those who came to play.
“Who” also asks about you. Who are you? What are your abilities? Where are your strengths most evident? Now, wait a minute! The goal of this question isn’t asking who you are not–though a bit of that reality may be needed. But when you consider who you are and what you passions are all about and why you want to make a difference and what you long to see, well, a lot of other guys have to get out of your mirror. True, you’re not Andy Stanley or Craig Groeschel. Frankly, you’re better–’cause you’re the one God selected for the slot you now serve. You’re the better fit for what He wants to do so figure out who you are! You’ll never convince your congregation to look beyond the things they think they can’t do if you keep judging yourself by what you think you’re not.
Only when you’ve traversed the real “where” of your work and have deeply pursued the “who” standing with you and before you are you truly ready for any sort of strategic planning. And that’s where our third question will take us…next time.