by Greg Anderson –
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Have you ever been driving and noticed that your car is pulling slightly to the right or left? Although not for certain, it is most likely your vehicle is out of alignment. Typically, realignment solves the problem and as soon as proper adjustments are made, you’re staying in the correct lane with minimal effort.
In , Matthew 22, Jesus addressed a religious system badly in need of alignment. Other priorities, different values, and competing goals were pulling the Judaism of his day towards the ditch. To correct that waver, Jesus insisted two ideas—love of God and love of others—had to be the great principles which steered faith. Only they were strong enough to keep faith true and on course.
Churches can also get out of alignment, of course. They have been known to pull and wobble. There are many reasons why this occurs, but they ultimately boil down to a loss of direction and priorities. At such times, it is helpful for churches to hear Jesus’ words again. They represent the ultimate “realignment” challenge. They are weighty and worthy of daily reflection and certainly appropriate for “Why are we here?” discussions among church leaders. They establish foundational truths for where we are going and outline the primary means of getting us there.
There are times however, in the tug of war between the truth of his words and the reality of our flesh, when we need a little help. There are “alignment experts” (church consultants) who can guide churches back to basics and get them back on track. But there are also some fundamental questions church leaders can ask themselves and prayerfully process internally. The answers to those questions may bring your leadership, specific ministry emphasis, or volunteer team back into alignment with your church’s mission, vision, and values.
Before working through the list below, take a few moments to read through your church’s mission and vision statements. Assuming they are aligned with the teachings of Jesus, they along with your core values comprise the foundational components of a ministry strategy. Based on your ministry strategy, it is important for church leaders to consistently process questions such as:
- Do our goals, desired outcomes, and actions align with our ministry strategy?
- When interviewing and hiring, are we equipping our interviewers to review vision and mission statements and core values as part of job expectations?
- Do staff members demonstrate our vision and mission statements and core values in their behaviors and attitudes?
- When potential staff is interviewed or when volunteers are recruited, are questions posed regarding ability to align head and heart with our ministry strategy?
- Do all staff members know the role they play in moving our ministry strategy forward?
- Are feedback mechanisms in place for church leaders to receive timely input regarding ministry strategy obstacles and bottlenecks?
- Are we properly staffed to fulfill our ministry strategy?
- Are we practicing spiritual disciplines in order to discern our motives, means, and methods?
These types of questions, asked with the context of a spiritually maturing leadership team, are designed to keep your church aligned with why it exists while staying focused on where it is going. If your church knows why it exists, then it can identify staff and volunteer attributes, characteristics, skills, knowledge, and abilities that align with that reason for existence.
By prayerfully and consistently processing these types of questions (and others like them) you are positioned to continue heading in the right direction without being pulled away from what matters most: Loving God and loving others.