As believers in Christ, we will always look first to God’s Word and His Holy Spirit for guidance. God can then lead us to have effective lives and practices for doing our mission work! But many of us appreciate when someone comes up with good information or guidance that may help us take positive steps in areas where we are not experts.
…this path to progress will apply to almost any goal.
One useful book that has helped many people these past few years is Good to Great by Jim Collins. Though a secular book about business… Jim Collins and others quickly recognized that this path to progress will apply to almost any goal. What Collins outlined is practical and does not promote any “fads” or short cuts to help persons accomplish a vision. Christian author, and President of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom Rainer adapted many of Jim Collins’ research methods in his book, Breakthrough Churches, (Zondervan, 2005), and found his steps apply to the field of church growth.
Here is a simplified summary (easier English) of Jim Collins’ suggested “framework” for making progress (and how Christian leaders can put this into action).
1. Get “Level 5 Leaders” These are leaders who have a strange combination of being humble – yet able to stay focused on achieving a great goal. (Who better than Christians who want God’s best as they lead others? If you are given leadership, then govern diligently.)
2. Get “The Right People on Your Team” Will you need help in accomplishing your vision? Find the right people who can help you and partner with them. (Be devoted to one another … honor one another above yourselves.)
3. Get “Team Members in the Right Roles” Have your team members doing the right things. (Your team members should work within their gifting and passions. They may not all have the same function – help them see how they can make a difference and use their gifts in the roles your team needs.)
4. “Face the Brutal Facts” Once you have a team, work together to ask questions truthfully about your “current reality.” Think about “us and our plans” with sober judgment; “What is it Going to Take” (WIGTake) to succeed in your goal(s). (How can we succeed unless we know what the barriers to mission success are? So be truthful to ask the right questions that will help you think about those factors. Be sure to find and study any “Best Practices” so that you may transform and renew your minds in the task(s) in which you want to succeed.)
5. “Make your Plan” Once you have the above four, work together to make a plan you all think will work. (Debate – be honest… decide what you should do to accomplish the Lord’s will for your lives and make a plan that you are excited to implement.)
6. “Work Your Plan – Hard – and Long” Once you have a plan… put it into action. Never lack in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor as you serve the Lord. Do the hard work necessary to see if your plan will work. It may take some time and things may start slowly but if you keep working hard you can gain momentum and see ever greater results. (Stay right before God and if He has given you a plan, be faithful to do your part in implementing it even through difficulties you may face.)
7. “Best in the World Principle” Keep focusing in on your goal and try to become an expert at the key parts of accomplishing your vision. (Be the very best at what God has for you in God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for you and your partners.)
8. “Councils” As you face difficult situations where your plan is not working – don’t be conceited – call on the right people who can “troubleshoot” with you and find answers to get over your barriers. (God’s Word has a lot to offer here as you consider God’s ways of accomplishing His purposes).
9. “Accelerate” As you see first successes (we pray you will) then work hard to get better at what you do – and train/help others do the same. (Don’t pursue everything that may help, but carefully implement new ideas you and your team believe will help you go on to greater fruit for the Lord.)
Final Exercise: Compare the above principles and framework with God’s Word in Romans 12:1-16