In Psalm 27:4, King David says, “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after.” In Matthew 6:33, Jesus, heir of David, says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Focus. Focus.
On the most helpful books I have read in recent years is The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni. It is subtitled, “Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else.” Health is a good thing.
Organizational health is a good thing. If we can find ways to enhance organizational health in our churches, it is a good thing. Business guru Lencioni outlines four disciplines for organizational health. Three of them articulate the secret. Here are those three disciplines: create clarity, overcommunicate clarity, reinforce clarity. In short, clarity (focus, seeking one thing) is a good thing.
Last year, as we celebrated the 75th anniversary of our Alexandria District, we were reminded how we went from being the 10th largest in the Virginia Conference to being the largest district in Methodism. This happened through clarity, a strategic focus on reaching new people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the growth of His Church.
As we move into 2016, and begin the next 75 years of our district, I want to invite us again to be clear. Among our various churches, we have many worthy goals and we are accomplishing many remarkable things as the Body of Christ in our communities. I wonder if we have the clarity we need.
One of the responsibilities of the district superintendent is to be the missional strategist for the district. Our strategy is to reach new people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have prayerfully discerned that we will measure how well we are doing this by focusing on how many people we are leading to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (professions of faith). We will also measure how well we are keeping these new followers by looking at worship attendance. I invite every church in the district prayerfully to focus on increasing professions of faith and worship attendance.
At the district level, we will be doing our part to increase both by starting new faith communities. In particular, we will be partnering with anchor churches to begin second sites in places where we do not have a United Methodist presence. I invite every congregation that desires to reach new people in ways that they have not tried before to consider multi-siting. Google “church in a diner” (or click here) to see how one United Methodist church has reached new people in its community. Pray for God’s inspiration for your community.
Many church leaders realize that the era of the “attractional church” (when people were attracted to come to church) is fading, while the era of the “missional church” (when the church goes out in mission to meet people where they are) is emerging. In this day of constant change and complex challenges, we will become paralyzed without a clear focus. Our mission is not to take care of our churches; our mission is to reach new people with the grace of our Lord Jesus, and help them to grow in love with Him. We will do this as we look beyond the ways that are not working well, and experiment with emerging ways that will accomplish our long-standing mission better. Every congregation will need to pray for guidance and watch for God’s response as we wrestle with how this fits our mission field. In every place, the clear focus is to reach new people for Jesus, which we will measure by increasing professions of faith and increasing attendance at worship. Let’s try to build on our strengths with a strong dose of clarity.