In some of my workshops I tell the story of fishing one day when my boat motor became stuck on an underwater rock. I had been drifting down the river fishing the banks when my boat went over this rock and became stuck. The boat did not have tilt-and-trim so I had to find a way to get off the rock. To make a long story much shorter, before I got the boat unstuck I broke about eight fishing rods and had three treble hooks stuck in my arms. If you attend one of my seminars one day you may hear the longer, more entertaining version of this story!
So, how did I end up in this predicament? Remember, I said I was drifting down the river. The key word here is drifting. In fact, as I look back, every time I got into trouble in a boat it was when I was drifting. As long as the engine or the trolling motor was running I was going somewhere on purpose, and I never had problems as long as the motors were running.
The same is true in life and in church work. The times we get into the most trouble is when we are content to drift. When we are living a purposeful life we are much less likely to get into trouble, and we are much more likely to be more successful. When a church is ministering with intentionality the same thing is true. The problem is that it's much easier to drift along and hope something good will happen.
After working in and with churches for the past three plus decades I have to say that many of them are just drifting along. They open their doors each week hoping something good will happen and wondering why things aren't better than they are. They lack a clear sense of having a God-given vision. They seem to have little purpose for much of what they do except it's what they've always done in the past.
These churches need to fire up their motors and begin to go somewhere on purpose. They need to invest the time to discern a fresh vision from God for what he wants to do in and through their church today and then identify the steps they need to take to make that happen. We must become much more intentional about what we're doing than many of our churches have been in the past.
If I may use another analogy, let's stop taking a shotgun approach to ministry and begin to take a rifle approach. A rifle approach requires you to be much more focused on your target and more deliberate in what you're doing. As churches, let's begin to focus in on the one or two things we can do with excellence that will make a difference in the communities in which we serve. With that kind of focus and intentionality we will begin to see more fruits from our labor.
If I can help you become more focused on knowing and doing God's vision for your church, please contact me. You may also find my book Intentional Ministry in a Not-So-Mega Church: Becoming a Missional Community to be a help as you get started.