So how do we avoid these mistakes? I asked you in the previous article to think about that question. I did the same myself. Here are some of the solutions I came up with.

The first step: SHARPEN THE AWARENESS. Robert Kriegel, in his book Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, dealt with much the same problem. He discussed the importance of getting people to become “cow-hunters.”

One company was so determined to hunt down and kill the sacred cows they issued cowbells to every employee. Every time a sacred cow is identified, someone rings his or her cowbell!

Kriegel mentioned other strategies companies use to communicate this idea. His conclusion: “The overriding and most important objective is to create an organization of hunters.”

This suggestion is applicable to the church. We need to find creative ways to encourage our people to look for “sacred cows.” Sharpening the awareness concerning these mistakes that will short circuit our ministry is the first step in avoiding them. How do we do that?

The second step: BROADEN THE VISION. This addresses mistake #3: We defend our own turf instead of promoting the work of the kingdom. That is usually the problem, isn’t it? Every sacred cow has some people who worship it. Every program has some people who support it. Every division of the church program has some people who are involved. These individual programs become ends in themselves instead of means to a greater end which is to further the kingdom of God. We need to communicate to our people a broader view of what we are about.

We need to get our people thinking about what is best for the church rather than just what is best for them. How do we do that?

The third step: CLARIFY THE FOCUS. Rick Warren, pastor at the Saddleback Church in California, has written a book about “the purpose driven church.” Warren suggests that the church that is successful today is one which is focused on its purpose. Churches focus on a variety of issues.

  • Some churches are “tradition” driven
  • some are “facilities” driven
  • some are “denominationally” driven
  • some are “finance” driven
  • some are “program” driven
  • We must be purpose driven.

Our specifically stated purpose as a church is “to be a transformed people who are transforming the world” — a purpose that has driven us to desire to be an Acts 1:8 church. That is a global purpose that extends far beyond our own individual agendas and personal turfs.

We need to sharpen the awareness of our people. We sharpen their awareness by broadening the vision. And we broaden the vision by clarifying the focus.