How to Facilitate a Biblical Mission/Vision Process, Part 4
Note: You’re reading Part 4 in an RPM Ministries’ blog mini-series on local church mission/vision. Read Part 1: Not Your Father’s Vision Process. Read Part 2: Capturing Your Biblical Calling. Read Part 3: Discover Your Unique Ministry Purpose.
I’ve developed this blog series from my book Equipping Counselors for Your Church.
7 Wrong Influences on Church Decision-Making
It is not enough to know what M, V, P, and C mean. More importantly, we need a biblical answer to the question, “Why is an MVP-C Statement so vital?”
We commit the time and energy to develop an MVP-C Statement because something always guides our choices about how we do church and ministry. Some develop their MVP-C purposefully and biblically; others don’t realize or understand what guides them.
Everyone Has an MVP-C, Some Let the Bible Shape It
In my consulting, I have detected at least seven factors that influence church decision-making: tradition, the world, negative people, the church down the street, finances, consensus, and/or the pastor’s opinion.
Some churches let tradition lead them rather than letting the Bible shape their direction. Ben Franklin astutely noted, “The past is quite valuable as a guide, but dangerous as a hitching post.” We have all heard the seven last words of the church: “We’ve never done it that way before.” When assessing a congregation-wide or ministry-specific direction, we would be wise to ask, “How did that tradition develop? Is it biblical? Is what we are doing and where we are heading what God wants for us?”
2. The World
Some churches let the world guide them rather than letting the Bible shape their purpose. This can be fad-oriented: “What’s the latest fad, trend, or bandwagon we can jump on?” Others are felt-need oriented: “What do people want that we can give them?” Still others are relevance oriented: “What’s relevant to our culture?” I have already indicated that we need to be good students of our congregation, community, and culture. However, like Jesus and Paul, the Bible must direct how we communicate God’s changeless message to our changing times.
3. Negative People
Some churches seem to run more on the fuel of negative people than on the guidance learned in God’s Word. The “squeaky wheels gets the grease.” Anyone who has been a church leader has faced the temptation to say, “We can’t upset ______.” Will we make church decisions in reaction to negativity, or will we determine direction based upon wisdom from the Word? This doesn’t imply that we should become defensive about criticism or close our ears to negative feedback. It simply means that we must develop our ministry focus through what we learn from God in His Word and not based upon what we hear from the vocal minority.
4. The Church Down the Street
Others model their church off the church down the street. We can become shaped by the big name organization or the big church orientation. We are tempted to think, “We have to do it the way the best-selling Christian author does it.” Or we think, “That church is growing. Let’s do church the way they’re doing church.” While there is nothing wrong with learning from others, there’s plenty wrong with plopping someone else’s MVP-C focus on your church without doing your own biblical work.
Still others decide how to do church based upon finances. The mentality can become, “We do this because it’s all we can afford.” A past orientation can develop where we think, “Last year’s income becomes this year’s budget which becomes this year’s vision.” Even worse, we can become fear oriented. “There are giants in the land! We can’t do that!” Obviously, any MVP-C must be realistic. It must set priorities. However, in tight times, all the more reason to be sure that every penny spent is directed toward God-shaped ministry.
6. Consensus/Secular Democracy
Some let consensus or “secular democracy” shape the church’s envisioning process. Majority rules. I understand congregational government—I was saved and disciple in a Baptist church. I am not disputing that style of church decision-making. Rather, I am raising the issues of pooled ignorance and of decisions guided by human opinions instead of God’s Word. Even in churches governed by congregational rule, God still calls spiritual leaders to guide people to use biblical principles to make wise church decisions.
7. The Pastor’s Opinion/Secular Dictatorship
The opposite of consensus is the pastor’s opinion or “secular dictatorship.” This method reflects a problem that many people have with the way vision casting has frequently been practiced. It is top down, Moses-like. The pastor sees himself as uniquely and directly receiving God’s vision for the entire church. Although some popular Christian authors and church leaders teach and practice vision catching and casting this way, that is not the model I will present. The authority does not lie in a person; the authority lies in God and His Word. The model we will follow suggests facilitative leadership in which mature, equipped, and called church leaders guide the congregation in the process of jointly catching and casting God’s vision.
The Rest of the Story
Join us for Part 5 as we address the vital question: Should the Pastor Dictate the Vision?
Join the Conversation
Which of the 7 wrong ways of church decision-making have you witnessed? Which is the “worst”? What additional wrong ways would you add?
RPM Ministries: Equipping You to Change Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth