“It is my hope and prayer that many pre-believers will come to the annual evangelistic meeting we’ve planned for tonight”
Only a couple of non-Christians showed up; the rest were their regular church members. No clear vision was communicated about the purpose of the special gathering. Members were simply asked to pray and invite their friends to attend. But they were not motivated to befriend pre-believers weeks before the meeting and through regular prayer and contact accompany them to the event. And at the meeting, to pray them into God’s kingdom.
“I expect our congregation to double in three years’ time”
A noble wish. Wonderful spiritual goal. But three years later, the numbers remained the same. The church was operating in maintenance mode. What the pastor expected was not shared and owned by the congregation. Members comfortably enjoy the spiritual oasis the main service and the small groups provided. If he and a few key leaders were to use and adapt Alpha courses and demonstrate loving relationships, there might be growth. Some will come to Christ and connect with them.
“I believe my Youth Pastor is doing a great job. His weekly reports are spectacular. I’m so proud he’s on our team”
To his dismay and heart-break when this member of his staff team left, the Pastor found his Youth group in disarray. Numbers had plummeted. The Pastor was unaware of the adage “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” Some folks know how to fob you off with hyped up reporting.
“My vision is to raise 500 Prayer Warriors for our church.”
What a commendable ambition. When the Pastor said this, he had 300 people in his church. Six years later after he first shared his vision, only around 25 members could be regarded as faithful intercessors. When a deacon in his congregation gingerly asked him why his original dream had not been fulfilled, the Pastor cheekily retorted, “I didn’t set a deadline.” Precisely. He was simply pulling an impressive figure out of the proverbial that. There was no strategy to realize his dream. In fact, he rarely mentioned this after two or three initial attempts. His goal was not owned by his members. He forgets that teamwork makes a dream work but a vision turns into a nightmare when the leader had a big dream and an uncommitted team.
Had these case studies (they happen so frequently!) come before a review board in a well-run business, the pastors would have been fired. The problem is they can conveniently hide behind spiritual smokescreens. “Our work is spiritual work. You can’t measure it by quantitative growth. God sees the heart and he values faithfulness more than success.’ Ingenious excuses can easily be multiplied.
Leaders are expected to cast vision and to articulate clear goals. Pastors are aware that the faith factor will prompt them to set big ones.
Are we not permitted set large goals and cherish great expectations? No. Of course, we’ll need the empowering of God’ Spirit to enable us to do it. But leaders have to present their targets with deadlines. Then they must first run through these with their team of co-workers. Together, they should come up with simple and practical steps to implement them. Regular review and feedback will embolden members to make their leaders’ dream, a reality. Otherwise, their vision stems merely from personal impulses, rather than from the Lord.
Like the great missionary William Carey, we should “expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.”