Has your church plateaued? A new person trickling in once in a while doesn’t count as growth. 

Has your church been in decline? Decline isn’t measured in seasonal or short term attendance drop off. Instead, decline means a sustained decrease in more than one area of your church. Are leaders leaving and finances dwindling? Is attendance dropping while volunteer recruitment has become next to impossible without tapping the same people over and over again? 

Are you feeling stuck and unsure what lies ahead for you or your church? Being stuck can present itself in a number of different ways – lack of clarity, unwillingness to consider change, a failure to consider new approaches to ministry.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you aren’t alone. I have been able to answer yes to all of the above at some point in my role as a lead pastor.  

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, a great place to start getting things back on track is to take a good, long and honest look at the vision and direction of your church.   

One of my main roles as a lead pastor is to drive and initiate vision and direction. If you are the person at the top of your organization/ministry, that applies to you as well. Vision and direction need to be initiated from the top. 

People follow vision and direction.

But there’s a problem. I’m not perfect and neither are you. Ministry can highlight our insecurities and imperfections. Sometimes ministry can just be down right tough and exhausting. There are things that can get in the way as we try to find, initiate or drive the vision and direction for our church or organization.

Here are three things that kill vision and direction.

1. PRESSURE: “I don’t want to do it, but I will.”

Pressure can manifests itself in many different ways, but when it comes to the vision and direction of the church, no matter what it looks like, it will sideline you. Pressure becomes an unhealthy driving force when: You give in to the power players at church who want the church to serve their own agenda. You are making decisions based on what is easy instead of what is right. Too many voices are considered in an attempt to please others.

2. DESIRE: “I want to.” 

You can easily lose your direction and vision when you put your desires and preferences above the needs of the church. Desire becomes and unhealthy driving force, killing your vision and essentially your church, when “I” statements grab too much space in your heart. 

Here are some examples: I want to have a big church. I want to be a lead pastor. I want to teach every week. I want to retire in this town. I want to be the most important person in the organization. I want to write a book. I want to *insert desire here*. 

I know you would never say those things out loud, but don’t let them steal your heart’s attention away from God’s direction. Seeking God’s direction and casting vision is a constant removal of self. What if the vision and direction for the church should cost you your role at church? What if God has something better for you? What if the vision and direction of the church is bigger and better than you can imagine? You will never be insignificant if you keep seeking God’s direction.

3. FEAR: “I am afraid to.”

Fear is the most prevalent driving force that kills vision and direction. The fears that pop up run deep. Financial fears: I won’t be able to pay my mortgage if I lose this job. Fear of losing significance: If I am not teaching every week, who am I. Fear of not having a future: I can’t do anything else if I lose this job.

Fear can be paralyzing, but you can trust Jesus through it. Don’t let your fears drive you to insignificance. Step out in courage. Here is a talk about my journey through fear. You aren’t alone. 

The driving force of vision and direction is always and should always be faith.

You can get back on track as a visionary leader today in 2 simple steps:

1. Evaluate the 3 driving forces mentioned above. What pressures, desires or fears have you been wrestling with? Have they been getting in the way of you initiating and driving vision for your organization?

2. Talk about them with a staff member/colleague/friend/spouse. Once you start talking about these three driving forces they start to lose their power to push you away from the direction God has for you.

God is going to do awesome stuff through you as you continue to seek his direction for your ministry.  We all drift sometimes. It’s okay. Realign yourself today. Start leading with vision and direction and watch health start to blossom in your church.

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Josh Ott is lead pastor at Grace Free Church in Cressona, PA. He is also a speaker, coach and creator of the The Speaking Course for Pastors, Speakers and Church Leaders.

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