Two Horses are Better than One (Or are They?)1
I once read a story about a pastor who, while in seminary, purchased a Toyota Cressida from a fellow seminarian. On his first road trip from Dallas to Houston, upon accelerating to 65, the car began wobbling violently. After a front-end alignment, though, the problem was solved! Simply put, alignment is critical!
As Session's Vision Team continues its work, that image of that Toyota Cressida has returned to my mind over and over.
The Vision Team (consisting of myself, Elders Sue Nelson-Brown, Roberta Ramont, and Milt Houghton) have recently embarked the final stage in our process: alignment. And our church is that Toyota Cressida! How much and where it's wobbling depends on who you ask - but our goal is to align the ministries of our congregation so that we can go fast and far into the future God has for us!
The stages of alignment are seen in the figure above. From left to right, they are Confusion, Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration. As you think about the ministry and mission of Good Shepherd, where do you think we fit?
Are we in the first stage, with various ministry teams pulling in opposite directions, using a lot of energy but going nowhere?
Are we in the second stage, with some ministries working against each other, but others working toward a similar goal?
Or, are we in the third stage with increased coordination?
Wherever you think we are, I think we would all agree that the goal is total collaboration - the fourth image - with the dozens of various ministries and programs of Good Shepherd pulling in the same direction!
In his book Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement, Will Mancini likens this image to horses pulling in the same direction:
For the established church, stage zero alignment is ‘confusion.’ Ultimately, to be exceedingly effective the church must move all of the horses to the same side of the alignment ring to achieve stage three alignment: collaboration. Imagine how these vectors multiply energy when they pull together. Two horses that can individually pull 1,000 pounds pull 2,600 pounds together; there is a 30 percent increase in efficiency!
To be clear, this alignment is not something that we can accomplish in one meeting with our Mechanic. Such alignment in a church our size with our history will take at least three years. And yet, it's time to put the car up on the lift!
May we continue to trust our Pastors, Staff, Vision Team and Elders as they seek to follow the leading of our “Heavenly Mechanic”, trusting that He knows what is best and will lead us in aligning the ministries of our church, so that we may go fast and far into the future He has for us!