Over the years, acquaintances have tried to sell me on sure-fire opportunities to make good money. Multi-unit real estate investments. Wildcat oil wells. Sports memorabilia. Cryptocurrency. Non-fungible tokens. But here’s the thing: I’m not a fan of get-rich-quick schemes. I have a healthy skepticism of can’t-miss investments. I tend to favor the tortoise over the hare, remembering that “slow but steady wins the race.”
Through the years, I’ve also developed the same type of skepticism toward sure-fire church-growth schemes, but not for lack of chasing said schemes! I’ve been to Saddleback Church and absorbed Rick Warren’s purpose-driven church strategies. I’ve pursued Jim Cymbala’s “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” model for prayer-based church growth. I’ve explored John Maxwell’s “Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership” seminars. I’ve gone to seminars on building the church through small groups, hospitality ministry, personal evangelism, pastoral care, spiritual formation, discipleship, spiritual gifts, church assimilation, breaking church growth barriers, effective preaching, and many more. Most have provided some helpful insights but none has provided the silver bullet for church growth. As I wrote in last week’s article–beware of certainty projects.
Although I don’t believe in sure-fire church growth schemes, our congregation must always pursue health, vitality, service, and mission. One way we’ve been pursuing these qualities this past year is by participating in a congregational visioning process. Like everything else I mentioned above, this is no “silver bullet.” But taking time as a congregation every once in a while to reflect on our purpose and direction, especially following the disruptiveness of the COVID pandemic, strikes me as a valuable exercise, especially when combined with practical follow-up and implementation.
During the next five Sundays, we’ll be reflecting together on the vision description that our team of Conejo members crafted last year, in a sermon series titled “Envisioning Our Shared Future.” There’s nothing magical about this description. However, if it represents the true yearnings and prayers for the Conejo congregation, it can serve as a prod and a plumb line as we pursue ministries, serve our community, share our faith, and wrestle with directional decisions in the years to come. As we pursue God’s unfolding future for our congregation, may we continue to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).