What is the proper strategy for leaders in the church today? Should we focus on SOLVING PROBLEMS or should we primarily expend our energy trying to DEVELOP OUR STRENGTHS? Both strategies have been followed in the past.
Some leaders focus on the problems that have to be solved. They focus on what’s wrong. They ask questions like:
Are we not reaching people?
Is our giving below budget?
Do we have conflicts on the staff?
Are we not reaching young adults?
Then, after determining what’s wrong, the key question becomes: How can we fix the problem?
Other leaders focus on the strengths that have been achieved. They focus on what’s right. They ask questions like:
Do we have a great singles program?
Is our worship service dynamic?
Do we have a strong ministry to youth?
Are we a friendly church?
Then, after determining what’s right, the major concern becomes: How can we improve what we are already doing well?
Which is the right approach? Many are suggesting the second approach today.
Roger Dow and Susan Cook in their popular book, Turned On, describe the positive approach of Miller SQA, a subsidiary of Herman Miller. Formerly, they asked customers the usual questions: What did we do poorly? What can we improve? The response to those questions was neither passionate nor useful. All of that changed when they began to ask,
“What was your most wonderful experience with Miller SQA?” Or, to put it another way, “How did we dazzle you?” They discovered that measuring enthusiasm created enthusiasm.
Instead of trying to determine what they were doing poorly, they focused on what they were doing right. In the words of one of their leaders, “We stalk, fan, and amplify the elements of excellence.”
A number of years earlier, in his much-read book, Twelve Keys to an Effective Church,
Kennon L. Callahan said the same thing about the church. Many pastors, said Callahan, spend all of their time trying to discover the sources of dissatisfaction in a congregation so that they can be removed. Such pastors operate on the basis of a knee-jerk reaction to problems. He suggested
instead that we discover the sources of satisfaction so they can be developed. His strategy was to:
Claim your strengths.
Expand your strengths.
Add new strengths.
While recognizing the need at times to solve problems before we can move forward,
I nevertheless agree with the positive approach. The best strategy for today is to focus on our strengths and to build on them. What do you think?