Some Questions to Dream About
By: Bill Easum
One of the things most pastors don't take enough time to do is simply sit around with nothing to do and day dream about what could be. I'm serious. For the last 15 years of my 24-year tenure at the church I restarted, I took most of the summer off and my wife and I left the city. For two or three months, we had nothing to do but think and dream and have fun.
I know you can't take off that much time, at least not yet. But when was the last time you did nothing but dream about the future? You say you're too busy? Think again. No one is too busy to take time to dream about the future. How do you think such things as the light bulb came about? Or what about that first pastor to attempt to become a multi-site church? Significant events like these don't just jump out at a person. They are the result of having time to contemplate a solution to a challenge.
I coach around 20 to 25 pastors a year. They hire me because they want two things: they want to grow personally and they want their church to grow. Some of them do not reach either goal. Guess what gets in the way of them reaching their goals? They are too busy to either set up or keep their monthly phone call. They get so bogged down in the everyday that they never get to the "what if."
Too many of the pastors seem to believe that if they work harder and longer, they will be more productive. I've found just the opposite to be true. Working less and easier usually results in more productivity.
Now, I'm not talking about slacking off. I'm talking about learning how to focus on something to the point that you see how to make it happen. If you dream about something long enough, the odds of it happening go up exponentially. Here's an example.
My mission in life when I restarted the church I stayed at for 24 years was for every member to be a minister of Jesus Christ (later this would morph into "every person a missionary for Christ.") But, after 10 years, this wasn't happening, and I was about to go nuts. I was working 100 hours a day trying to make a dream come true without spending the downtime to see what it would really take to make that dream a reality.
So I took some time off to think and do nothing. When I returned to the church three months later, I had my answer – every 10 people needed a mentor (at the time I used the word "pastor"). Some of my leaders thought I was crazy until I explained I was talking about small groups of 10 people led by a seasoned Christian. So we implemented small groups, and the church exploded. By the time I left the church, my workload was remarkably smaller and the results remarkably higher. The dream would never have been a reality if I hadn't taken the time to dream.
I'm reminded of another guy who had a dream but didn't know how to make it happen, so he went up into a mountain and after wandering around for days received the Ten Commandments. This was the same guy whom God forced out of his comfortable home, into the desert, to tend sheep for decades. Talk about having time to marinate on one's dream. Now I'm not comparing myself to Moses, but I am comparing how God used both of us and can use you if you simply take time to dream and listen instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. And what makes it worse is that your church leaders will applaud your heavy workload and they will complain when you take off to dream. That's what they did with Moses. Can you and I expect any less?
So, what challenge or problem is standing in the way of your success or the success of your church? Have you taken the time to dream about the issue long enough to see how to make it happen? Or better yet, have you take enough time to dream that God puts something in your vision that you would have never thought possible?
A Few Dreaming Exercises
A net of 800 new churches were planted last year. Have you ever dreamed about planting a church?
Every year, 3,000 churches close for one reason or another. Does that bother you? If so, what are you going to do about it?
Only 20 percent of the U. S. population goes to church. Are you one of the 20 percent? Have you invited anyone to go with you to worship this last year? Does inviting someone ever enter your mind?
Eighty percent of the churches in the U.S. are either on a plateau or are dying. What can you do to change that picture? Or do you care?
The present increase in churches is only one-quarter of what's needed to keep up with the U.S. population growth. So why isn't your church considering planting a church? Or better, why are you thinking about planting a church?
Studies have shown that good use of technology and a willingness to grow are significant factors in church growth. So how good is your website and how willing are you to grow? Are you with the Apostle Paul when he says, "I'll do whatever I have to do to win some?"
Seventy-eight percent of clergy are overweight. When was the last time you went to the gym or did aerobics at home or took a long brisk walk (not running)? What kind of an example does being overweight send to your congregation?
More than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. What retention system do you have in your church to keep that from happening? Are you aware it is easier to keep visitors than to attract them?
Nearly one in five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13 percent of women. Have you evaluated your men's ministry lately? Do you have one?
God has something for you to do that is bigger and hairier than you can ever imagine. Take the time to dream on it and see what happens. God will amaze you.
Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full-service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact, www.churchconsultations.com.