Of Strategy And Spirit

This has been one of my primary dilemmas in church leadership:  do you rely on strategy or lean on the Spirit?

Here’s what I mean.  Back in the day, many churches (including Good Shepherd) adopted a model of church function and leadership that centered on a baseball diamond.  Borrowing liberally from Rick Warren’s enormously successful The Purpose Driven Church (and its even more successful follow up, The Purpose Driven Life), churches designed their programming in a logical, linear process that looked like this:



But back in the day (the early 2000s in my case), I saw two primary weaknesses with imposing this model on Good Shepherd or any church:

1. What if you like cricket and not baseball?

2. Where is the Holy Spirit?

As you might imagine, I devoted more time and energy to addressing the second objection than the first (though our ongoing partnerships in India make the first one relevant as well!).

As helpful as the diamond metaphor was and is, I felt the emphasis on strategy overlooked the role of the Holy Spirit in growing and energizing the church.

So for a time, I suppose, we didn’t have much of a strategy at all.  Pray over enough seats, offer enough healing services, and voila! you’ve got church revival.  Of course, there are times when depending on the Spirit becomes a crutch for avoiding the hard work of casting vision, developing systems, and growing the kind of people who bring authentic renewal to your congregation.

All that to say that in this season of our church’s life, after a time of self-reflection aided by some “fresh eyes” we brought on, my prayers have moved to this:

Lord, would you align our strategy so that it perfectly matches up with the move of the Holy Spirit in our midst?

I guess you could say that I’ve learned to stop seeing strategy and spirit as antagonists and begun viewing them as allies.