Recently, I received an email with a question about vision and I thought I’d share it with you.
Many pastors seem to have wonderful visions when they tell it. However, they rarely seem to be able to turn their words into reality. What do you think are the major causes of failure for them to achieve their goals?
In our research and experience, there are a couple of reasons why vision gets sidelined and goals are missed.
First, churches (and pastors!) rarely understand the role of an effective senior pastor.
Instead of focusing on the priorities that will help the church transform lives and grow both the church and the kingdom, the pastor spends most of his/her time playing pastor fetch. “Pastor do this, pastor do that.” Most of “this and that” is caring for the members of the church, which means that the pastor has little time left to engage in the important, life-giving, life-transforming tasks necessary to reach the vision.
I remember in my first church as a part-time student pastor, I was busy growing the church by spending my time with the unchurched. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my job was to take care of the church and the members first … and that cutting the church’s grass was an important part of my job. And writing the bulletin. And … and … Within a couple of months, I was so busy meeting the church’s “needs” that all the growth I’d managed to bring in slipped away.
I was so caught up in “doing” church that I had no time to grow the church.
Second, pastors are taught how to study the Bible, how to do pastoral care, how to prepare and deliver a sermon, but they’re not taught to (1) strategically prioritize their time; nor are they taught (2) leadership. Without those skills, the pastor’s day is filled with distractions from the vision and the goals necessary to reach that vision.
It would be years before I learned this lesson. Seminary taught me to prioritize my time differently – I discovered that the pastor’s job isn’t to cut the church’s lawn. On the other hand, I was still taught that the membership was my most important priority … and there were lots of distractions that kept me from doing what it takes to grow the church. It would be years before I learned exactly what my priorities should be, at least if transforming lives was my key goal in life!
Having a vision isn’t enough.
And even if you can effectively share your vision, that’s only the first step. Most pastors fumble their vision because of all the blockades that distract them and keep them from turning vision into reality.
One of the things I’m offering to pastors these days is a 60–75 minute Priority First Strategy Session where I help the pastor clarify their top priority, identify the primary obstacle that’s distracting them from achieving their goal, and then we look at a path and plan forward to overcome that obstacle so they can reach their number one goal. If you, or someone you know, would like to book that session (it’s free) , click or send them to the link to the intake questionnaire and booking form: https://effectivechurch.com/questionnaire/