By Todd Adkins
In my early days of ministry, you may have found me guilty of viewing people in my congregation as vessels to be filled instead of torches to be lit. May that never be said of me or of you again as a church leader.
Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to build an army, not just an audience, especially when it comes to times of crisis. The greatest obstacle that stands in our way from emerging from tough seasons of ministry with a stronger church body faithfully engaged and using their gifts in service to Christ is clarity in the midst of chaos.
Every leader is leading through uncertainty today. You can’t afford to allow the lack of certainty to manifest itself into a lack of clarity. Your staff and your congregation will follow you through uncertainty, but they cannot follow you if you are unclear about where your church is going and where they fit into the process.
This quadrant is going to be helpful. It is an adaptation from Will Mancini in his book, Church Unique. We are going to use the analogy of a ship. If a church is a ship, there are four types of people on it. There are stowaways, passengers, pirates, and crew members.
The x-axis is telling you whether or not somebody is on board with what you are doing as a church. Are they really bought in? The y-axis is whether or not they are actively contributing to the church with their gifts in service to Christ. The most important part to this conversation today is the z-axis. The z-axis has to do with if they have a clear understanding of your church’s vision. The question you must ask is when someone is onboard, are they really onboard? Do they have clarity of your vision? Have they bought into the vision? Do they actually contribute to the vision? We will walk you through all four of these quadrants, but notice a lack of clarity means you have no crew. You are forcing them into one of the other three categories by default.
If there are people in your church now who aren’t really onboard and they aren’t contributing, then they are stowaways. They may show up and go through the motions and you wonder why they are even there in the first place. They may come to a service occasionally and then go back home, but that’s pretty much it.
Next, if a person is onboard and they may somewhat get the vision, but not enough to make a contribution, they are a passenger. Passengers are engaged and they are enjoying the ship’s amenities, but they are simply along for the ride. By providing clearer and compelling vision, that is strategic and has on-ramps, you might be able to get them into the crew category.
If a person is not onboard with the church, but does actively contribute in a way that is not in alignment with your vision, that person is a pirate. Any contribution that they make that doesn’t align with your vision is actually an act of piracy. You can, maybe, strategically shift this person to being crew by providing a clearer, compelling vision and strategic on-ramps. But ultimately they may need to find a new ship if they can’t get onboard with the vision because they are actively leading in a direction you don’t want to go.
This leads us to our last category – the crew. The crew is on board. They understand and can articulate the vision and they are actively engaged in the church. The vision is so clear and so compelling to them that they are willing to contribute. We want as many people as possible to be in this category. We want them to relate to themselves as crew members on board our ship.
Now we want to use this quadrant to categorize your people. If you have more stowaways, pirates, and passengers than you do crew members, then you need to assess your vision to make sure it is clear and compelling. Remember, people will follow you if you are uncertain, but they won’t follow you if you are unclear. You must paint a clear picture of what the change will be and what it will look like when we get there in order to lead them forward.
You are going to use the exercise associated with this step to help you identify where people are in your congregation and then create a strategy designed for each group of people. This will set you up quite well for the next step, which is all about communication strategy and a different way of leading different groups of people.
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