In our previous posts, we discussed the significance of your Ministry Vision being informed by God’s Plan for Your Ministry as well as Your Personal Strengths, Abilities and Limitations. Not only must we evaluate ourselves, we must also turn our eyes towards our congregation. Every congregation has important resources available to fulfill the ministry’s vision. These resources include people, finances, facilities, skills, information, history, and level of community respect. No two congregations are the same; the particular grouping of resources makes a congregation unique and equips it for a specific role in the building of the kingdom of God.
Seeking answers to the following questions will help clarify the unique contribution your congregation is equipped to make.
1. What are the characteristics of our congregation?
What is the membership? the attendance?
What is the age profile of the members?
What are the trends in membership and attendance?
Are we growing? Holding steady? Declining?
2. What are the special strengths of our congregation?
What things are we pleased with? What do we do well? Where have we seen God’s blessing?
3. What are the weaknesses of our congregation?
What things do we wish were different? What do we not do well?
4. What are the interests and needs of our members?
What are their dreams, their hopes?
What are their particular stresses?
What are the program needs?
What are the facility needs?
What are the staffing needs?
5. What is the history of our congregation?
How was it founded?
Who were the early leaders? What were they like? What stories are popular about them?
What were the major ministry accomplishments of the church?
Construct a “Life Story” of the church. Adapt the Life Story process used in Chapter 3 to graphically depict the historical development of the church. What does this tell you about the church? What approaches to ministry characterize the church? What crises influenced the church’s thinking?
6. What is the current situation of our congregation?
One writer has defined vision in this way: “Vision is the ability to see the opportunities within your current circumstances.”
What are the current strengths and weaknesses of our leadership team?
What is the atmosphere of the congregation? Warm? Cold? Cooperative? Lively? Dull? Uncertain? Powerful? Dynamic?
What unique opportunities exist in this congregation?
What unique strengths do we have to build on?
7. What special influences are there in our congregation?
What effect have recent cultural, social, or political changes had on our church?
What new opportunities for ministry exist in our area?
What “holdovers” from earlier days are now nonfunctional and need to be eliminated? (They may be attitudes, beliefs, and/or programs.)
Evaluate your congregation and how their unique strengths, abilities, and limitations shape the vision of the ministry. Then use your results to chisel down your vision. But your ministry does not end with yourself and your congregation! Be sure to check out the next series post on Developing an Awareness of the Needs of the People Outside to find out how to narrow your vision even more.This post is based on a portion of Andrew Seidel’s work Charting A Bold Course: Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry. For more information on this title and for many other leadership resources, visit our Resource Center today!
About the Contributors
Dr. Andrew B. Seidel served as executive director of the Hendricks Center at Dallas Seminary for fifteen years, which provides leadership training and development for seminary students as well as ministry and business leaders. A graduate of West Point and a colonel in the U.S. Army, Dr. Seidel was senior pastor at Grace Bible Church in College Station, Texas, for fourteen years. He left the pastorate to provide leadership training for pastors on the mission field in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today he continues to work in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia with Entrust (formerly BEE International). The author of Charting a Bold Course; Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry, Dr. Seidel and his wife Gail Norris Seidel have been married for more than fifty years and have two married children and six grandchildren.