If you’ve had your ear to the ground lately you’ve seen numerous blogs, numerous webinars, a multitude of zoom presentations and not a few YouTube videos of what people think during this pandemic. Just in the realm of church and ministry there are statistics and studies and presentations overflowing to tell us what we should think and what we should do. If you are a church leader or pastor you’ve probably got your head filled with all sorts of thoughts. Those range from negativity about whether we will ever regain where we were to how one should expand into digital ministry. Then there are a multitude of how to’s and tutorials about cameras, video editing, musical and dramatic pre-recorded video for sale to edit into your online service. The resources and ideas and insights and predictions and statistics are endless.
The material out there is also very scary. Most say this is the end of the church and the world that we know. They are probably correct. I heard a popular church leader say recently that there will probably be no more casual attenders anymore. His point was that if someone goes to church or watches online, it is not casual. Saying you believe and living out that faith by actually going to church or observing the Sabbath day is something that you will pay for (negatively) in the real world. Christianity is not popular. Yes, this world has indeed changed and has sped up the secularization of our society and our world. In many ways it is not church nor Christian friendly.
So what is the reaction of the church, church consultants and those in the know? Lots of ideas. Lots of suggestions and lots of solutions. Perhaps even you have some convictions about what should be done or should not be done. Perhaps you are eager to “trial balloon” something that you’ve been kicking around in your brain. Is it a good idea? Perhaps it is a great idea! Perhaps it will make all the difference in the world and in the spiritual life of many!
But there’s one problem with your idea.
It’s your idea.
Here’s the rub. How motivated are you to accomplish someone else’s idea? How much will you sacrifice your time, your energy and your comfort for someone else’s good idea. You might out of loyalty. You might because you like the person (especially if it is your pastor). But honestly, if you have any doubts or you aren’t fully convinced of the idea, you probably won’t go all out to make it happen. That’s a problem. That’s a problem when it comes to someone else buying into and supporting your good idea.
And if the idea was all about a solution to someone else’s problem, who’s to say those people will take you up on your solution for them? Maybe. If it includes something free. But if it takes them out of their routine, if it involves anything more than a passing glance, it’s doubtful that anyone will go out of their way for your solution to their problem. They may even be offended at the nerve you have for even presuming you have a solution for them.
Thats the problem with your idea. It is your idea.
It often comes down to throwing something against the wall and hoping it will stick. Then nine times out of ten, it probably won’t. No matter how good the idea.
I was recently talking with a newer pastor. It was probably more perceptive and self aware than many people I’ve talked to in a long time. He was smart. He had some ideas. But he knew they may not be workable. Then he said out loud that he didn’t know how to implement the idea and make it work. He had come to the heart of the problem. He didn’t want to offend and come across as a demanding know it all. But he didn’t want to give up on the idea either. What to do? This is where the conversation went after that:
First keep dreaming and keep praying.
Second, intentionally get to know and invest in hours and hours of listening to those you presume to help. Then listen some more. Give them care in the name of Jesus. Pray for them and with them and listen some more. Spend more time with them.
Third, notice what is emerging: their hopes, their dreams, their concerns, their possible solutions.
Fourth, ask them about how you can be helpful and supportive. Ask them how the church community can bless them in this concern. Listen some more. Pray with them some more.
Fifth, ask some of the more motivated how they would like to be involved.
Sixth, facilitate their organizing and designing the group, the support, the solution to their problem. Facilitate with them and be sure to include Jesus and His Word.
Seventh, watch God work and lead them in confessing faith and praising God for what He is doing.
It’s not your idea. Are you okay with that? It’s probably not as good as your idea. Are you okay with that? Yet they will engage and dive in and participate and it will be far better than you can ask or imagine. Are you okay with that? I hope so because that’s what God promises in Ephesians 3:20-21.
Scott specializes in leadership coaching, consulting, coach and leadership training. He is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church and others as an independent contractor. Listen to The Coaching Leader podcast and contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com. Check out his YouTube channel and new online Church Leadership Training at scottgress.teachable.com
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