Staying the Course

One of the most dangerous moments for some church staffs is that moment when the senior pastor, or senior leaders, arrive back from a ministry conference discussing a new model or after they’ve read the latest influential book by “Insert Mega-Pastor Name” and decide that shifting (yet again usually) to this new strategic model will bring together the necessary parts for the church, or ministry, to reach a new level of success. Having sat in a tenuous conference room of nervous staff members while the senior pastor held up a book and proclaimed it was the new ministry map…after having heard the same speech only 16 months prior…it is a difficult time for any ministry.

In the revised introduction to his updated text Competitive Strategy, Michael Porter writes this: 

Finally, in recent years there have been some who argue that firms should not choose competitive positions at all but concentrate on, variously, staying flexible, incorporating new ideas, or building up critical resources or core competencies that are portrayed as independent of competitive position. I respectfully disagree. Staying flexible in strategic terms renders competitive advantage almost unobtainable. Jumping from strategy to strategy makes it impossible to be good at implementing any of them. Continuous incorporation of new ideas is important to maintaining operational effectiveness. (xv-xvi)

Having a strategic vision allows organizations to accomplish goals and expand their effectiveness. For those of us in church and ministry environments, we are reminded of Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” However, Ephesians 4:14 also seems apropos here.

One of the overwhelmingly keys to success in any organization, religious or secular, is a clearly articulated, clearly defined, and clearly navigated strategic vision. Strategic vision should be like the  pin in a map at the end of a route, marking the accomplishment of a task or journey. If we take this idea of our organizations being on a journey to that successfulness, then we also realize it is deeply hurtful to the organization if the captain keeps changing course when the wind blows or decides to dry dock at every port to install a fancy new keel. It won’t work.

A well articulated and coherent strategy for an organization needs time to work and time to be worked. Like we’ve mentioned before on this blog, when organizations fail to accomplish their goals it is often (at a ratio of 85%) a failure in keeping with a strategy and not a failure of the strategy.

Leaders in secular, as well as religious, organizations have a difficult task ahead of them. As leaders we must carefully develop and arrive at a plan for the journey of our organization. Then we must relentlessly stick to that plan (providing for some minor tweeks to the internal processes) and see it through to accomplish our vision.

Staying the course in allowing vision to happen is a key part of seeing our success journey find the pin at the end of the map. So stick to it! Stay the course!