By Craig Etheredge:
Let’s just say it out loud.
We are addicted to programs.
We are tied to our traditions.
Just as an addict reacts emotionally when weaned off of his drug, people react negatively when their favorite program is changed or canceled. This reality has kept even the bravest leaders from making necessary changes lest they find themselves looking for other employment! So, why risk it? Why make changes? The answer is the danger of misalignment.
Ask your mechanic what happens when your tires are misaligned. Ultimately, the excess rub and drag of one tire misaligned will lead to a blowout. I remember sitting in a leadership training seminar. They showed us a picture of a championship rowing team. Each team member was in his place, rowing in perfect precision. Each one was doing exactly his part. They were completely aligned to accomplish their goal. Now imagine the same team, but this time one member is out of sync. His oar is colliding with the others or dragging in the water too long. Maybe he doesn’t like facing in the same direction as everyone else and wants to change his seat. What is he doing? His misalignment is hurting the team and ultimately the cause.
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When you have programming that is good, but is not aligned to your disciple-making philosophy of ministry, it hurts the team and the cause. Misalignment is dangerous. For example, misaligned programs distract. They distract people from being involved in mission-critical initiatives. Misaligned programs dilute resources. Finances, facilities, and leadership given to these programs take away from more important and effective plans. Misaligned programs clutter the schedule and compete for promotional time. Misaligned programs are not strategic. They move by their own inertia, not because they make a significant contribution to the direction of the church. Misaligned programs are often “off-limits” to any critical assessment. Their results and effectiveness are seldom evaluated.
What can be done about the misalignment in your church? Well, I don’t recommend that you unilaterally decide what needs to change and announce it from the platform on Sunday. Abrupt changes only engender defensiveness and conflict. Don’t say, “I’ve decided we are going to be a disciple-making church and so we are going to scrap all that we have been doing and go in a new direction.” That might be your last sermon. Even Jesus drew a hostile reaction in Nazareth when he proposed a change in their thinking. The better way is to lead your church to embrace and celebrate a culture of ongoing evaluation.
By Craig Etheredge of discipleFIRST. Used by permission.