The approach of the new year is an excellent time to envision what you want your church to accomplish in the next 12 months. It is important for you as a leader to think through your vision for your church in 2011, and it’s up to you to create—and share—that vision. As Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). Don’t let your congregation perish because there is no clear vision for 2011!
Creating an inspiring vision for yourself and your church members takes time and thought. Here are a few tips to help you start the process.
Ask a question. “What went well in 2010?” It is easier to build your vision if you concentrate on accomplishments and on things that worked well. Start by writing down the top 10 things that went well for your church in 2010. After you have identified these 10 things, look at each item and ask yourself, “What would I have done differently?” When looking at the past, it is best to focus on what could be done differently, not on what went wrong. There is probably plenty that went wrong, but focus on what you can change to do things right. Ellen G. White reminds us, “If in the old year we have made failures, let us commence the new by rectifying these errors as far as we can. If the old year has borne into eternity a spotted record of opportunities neglected and privileges slighted, let us see that that of the new year is free from these blemishes” (The Signs of the Times, January 1, 1885).
Now you have at least 10 things that you hope to improve on in 2011. Maybe there are more than 10 things on your list! Sometimes it’s good to have a longer list because as you pare it down, only the most important things stay on the list.
Prioritize. This step is so important that it bears repeating. Prioritize! What are the most important items on the list? Which will make the biggest difference for the congregation? For the young people? For your community? Put those items at the top of your list. Don’t waste time and energy on minor tasks. Minor tasks may be easier to accomplish than the important items, and doing lots of little things may make you feel good, but it will prevent your making 2011 a year of significance and genuine spiritual growth.
Plan. Once you have made your list, sketch out a general plan to share with other leaders in your church. Don’t fill in every detail; later you will encourage others to help decide the details so that they take ownership of the activities and goals.
Take action. Don’t hesitate. What needs to be done first? Gather helpers and begin—one step at a time, one day at a time. Think of it as laying a brick foundation. Strong foundations are not built all at once. Your year-end vision will help you build a strong foundation. To reach your goals by year’s end, visualize your foundation as it will look in 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, and so on. Picture it clearly. Now get busy and take action.
If, at this year’s end, you are looking back and remembering all that you did not accomplish, start the new year off right by focusing on what you want to happen in 2011. Use these steps to make the new year your best year ever!
Jonas Arrais General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary