Last night the church that I serve as Transitional Pastor spent time learning their Bedrock Beliefs. These are the beliefs that shape the culture of a church. Without these in place, your church would not be the same place. It was a valuable exercise that allowed for a lot of important conversations among the participants.
Two weeks earlier we did a similar exercise to understand the Core Values of the church. Like the bedrock beliefs, core values are essential to the culture of the church. Both are non-negotiable.
The reason for the two exercises is because in a couple of weeks we will spend a Saturday attempting to discern God's vision for the church. That vision must be congruent with both the core values and the bedrock beliefs or it cannot be a true God-given vision for the church.
Ten years ago the church had gone through a similar exercise, but vision needs to be re-examined every 5-6 years at least. Certainly, any time the church is seeking new pastoral leadership, as this church is, it needs to do vision discernment. As I have told countless churches, every pastor is not good at every thing. How can you know what you need in a pastor until you have a sense of where God is leading your church in the next few years?
This is one reason many pastors get into trouble in a new church. Too often, I've seen good pastors called to good churches who were a poor fit for what the church needed. It creates a lot of unnecessary pain for both parties, and can hinder the ministry of the pastor and the church for years to come. It's far better for the church to go through a vision discernment process before calling a pastor and then being very honest with their candidates what that process revealed.
In a few weeks the church will begin receiving information on potential candidates. By then we should have completed our process. This will provide much needed information to the search team as they begin their important work of identifying the top candidates and interviewing them.
How long has it been since your church went through a formal visioning process? Do you know where God is leading your church in the next few years? Knowing God's vision for your church is a key factor in effective ministry. It's far more effective than just trying new things hoping something will work.