Ministry agility is being able to shift and adjust as an effective ministry leader. These adjustments are made as you shepherd and lead people. Possessing ministry agility is crucial for you as a leader, but it is also vital for your church. The agile church can be so much more effective as the organization is capable of growing deeper and broader while adjusting to challenges along the way.
Over the years, there have been many organizations that have had to change dramatically to continue growing. As always, we must be careful when comparing the church to other kinds of organizations, but we can learn here. While it is God who grows the church, we are supposed to be shrewd and good stewards. We must focus on ensuring we are doing everything we can to operate effectively while resting on the truth that God is in control.
When the internet began to swallow industries, organizations needed to pivot to adapt, if not, they died. When music and books began to evolve as a medium in the digital era, adjustments had to be made. The church is certainly not as insignificant as what medium is used to deliver information, but we must learn from our shifting culture. We must adapt as new and challenging elements collide with our church body as this is when being an agile church matters most.
In every area of the church from parking to pulpit, there are elements with which we must contend. Being an agile leader, you can help the church as a whole move and respond to the various issues that arise. The following criteria can help as you operate as an agile church:
The vision of your church is the big picture goal your congregation has agreed God has called you to. Whether it is Love God, Love Others, or Reaching Our Community for Christ, or something else. It is a statement that helps you all focus on what you are believing God for. Knowing your vision is critical, pointing people to it consistently is a must. Regardless, your church’s vision is ultimately your church’s target.
The mission of your church is to accomplish the vision. This is the how behind the what. Often, mission and vision are confused or used synonymously, but that’s not correct. Your mission helps you accomplish the vision. If not, then change one or both, so they connect and make sense for people to understand and act. The vision is where you want to go (future); the mission is what you are doing now to get there (present).
Once your vision is set and articulated, and the mission is communicated so everyone understands the how and the why, you must track trajectory. The trajectory of your church is determined by the success of the mission in accomplishing the vision. One of the main reasons the church is stagnant is directly connected to this process. They have no clear vision and/or a mission that doesn’t accomplish the vision so the trajectory cannot even be assessed much less helpful. With a solid vision and a clear mission, the trajectory can be traced and helpful for growing and thriving. If your vision is to “Make Disciples of All Nations”, and your mission is to “Reach Our Community by Making Disciples”, your trajectory is tracking how disciples are being made. That process will determine whether or not the mission is being accomplished, which will lead to your vision eventually succeeding.
This is where being an agile church is so critical. As the vision leaks and the mission drifts, the trajectory will change. You must be dogged about making adjustments to keep the people focused on the mission driving toward the vision. We use the Discipleship Pathway as a means to help our people accomplish our mission of Making Disciples Who Make Disciples of All Nations. This is key to ensuring our trajectory is focused on the mission and vision of our church. We want people to know God, find community, make disciples, and change the world. To do that, we must watch the trajectory of each of these four steps on the pathway. We must make adjustments at every step all the time. There is no “set it and forget it” recipe for effective ministry.
The agile church is led by leaders with ministry agility. Understanding vision, mission, and trajectory will steer the high-level components of your organization. No matter what, we must rely on God to grow the church and change people’s lives. But we can be good stewards of our organization by honing our ministry agility and responding to shifts in our culture effectively.