A 6 Minute Read - By Chris Bright - posted on April 24, 2020

How to pursue the right ideas – not every idea

When you’re leading a church, everyone’s got an opinion. And that should be celebrated. After all, lots of ideas and opinions are better than none. I would argue that if your church is not getting lots of differing ideas, then it’s a sign that your church has already started to decline. You need fresh ideas, fresh vision to thrive.

However, if you don’t have a way of being able to process these ideas, chaos will reign. And this is probably closer to the end of the spectrum in which you find your church. If everything is a good idea, nothing is a good idea, because you won’t have the time and resource to make it happen.

The more you blindly say yes to things, the more complex your church will become, the slower you’ll move and the harder it will be to make change. What started as a good idea left unchecked can start to swamp you.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be this way. It starts off with realising that not every idea is a good idea, and not every good idea is a proceedable idea. There are 6 things that we’ve identified that will open the door to a new idea. These are the basic locks that you can put in place that will stop any and every idea coming to your table. However, just because you can open these locks does not mean that the idea should happen, it’s just the starting point.

Here are our six decision locks that give the most basic filter for any idea:

1. Does it align with our mission?

Firstly, does it align with why we do what we do. Here at thinking.church we believe that a great Mission should have three key influences: The Great Commission, your target market and your church’s unique calling. If it doesn’t align with these things, it’s a non-starter.

2. Does it align with our values?

The values are How you go about living out the mission. They are simple guiding principles that give you clear guidance. This could be something like Generosity. If an idea comes up that will lead you away from your value of being generous, avoid. What are your values?

3. Does it align with our strategy?

Your strategy can be quite complex to define, but essentially, you’re looking at a few things: how you make disciples, how you grow leaders and how you reach more people for Jesus. These take time to define, and it’s often in this area that opportunity knocks. But having a clear defined strategy for discipleship, leadership and evangelism will keep you focused, rather than hemming you in rigidly.  

4. Does it serve our target market?

This links back to the mission statement, but it’s worth defining it separately. If an idea is going to take you away from the very people you exist to serve, it’s not going to work as a proceedable idea for your church. I say that, because, it could mean that the opportunity gives birth to sending people to start a new church plant. If it’s a different ‘who’ - plant a new church, with a different name and a different feel that serves those people.

5. Does it help us fulfil our stated vision?

There’s a lot of confusion around vision and mission, but essentially, Mission is Why you do what you do, and vision is where you’re going. To put it clearly, it’s your 3-5 year goal. If an idea isn’t helping you achieve that, it shouldn’t be making it to your table.

6. Does it align with our financial policy?

The financial policy is probably the most important policy you will have for achieving your church’s goals. You can have all of the plans you like, but if your financial management isn’t planned carefully, it will be very difficult to achieve. Great churches plan their financial policy strategically and guard it carefully. Jesus was very strong on the fact that your money is linked to your heart, so make sure your financial policy links to your mission statement. If an opportunity comes in that takes you away from your mission-driven financial policy, it’s probably not going to be a proceedable idea.

What’s next?

If an idea can ‘unlock’ all of these, then it’s good to proceed… but only to the next stage. If you need help implementing your own decision-making systems, we provide on-site facilitation, so you can contribute to the discussion, without having to negotiate facilitating the session. Contact us on hello@thinking.church