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How To Align Leaders Around Your Mission

by Carey Nieuwhof 

One of the dreams of almost every leader is to see every person within an organization motivated by the same mission and vision. Team alignment advances the mission further, faster.

The reality is, very few organizations—and very few churches—function that way.

Most leaders have had an unsettling feeling that they might be the most passionate person about their mission, and wonder how on earth to get dozens, hundreds or even thousands of others aligned with the same mission instead of wandering off on their own course.

Well, you can change that. And it’s simpler (and more challenging at the same time) than you think.

Why Strategy Trumps Mission and Vision
If you really want people aligned with a mission and vision, your strategy is critical.

In fact, strategy trumps mission and vision. A great mission and vision with a bad strategy will fail.

Stripping everything back to basics will reveal why. (And to illustrate, I’ll use the mission, vision and strategy of Connexus Church where I serve.)

Mission = What we’re called to do. (To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ)

Vision = Why we’re called to do it. (To create a church that unchurched people love to attend—this is why we started it!)

Strategy = How we’ll accomplish it. (The steps we’ve chosen to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus)

If you don’t clearly know how you’ll accomplish your mission, well . . . that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Why “Anything Goes” . . . Doesn’t
Most leaders have people-pleasing tendencies (I blogged about the problems with that here).

That means most of us have a hard time saying “No” when people ask to start a ministry or program.

The challenge with that, of course, is that they often want to do things that they’re passionate about, not the things your organization or church was created to do.

So, most church leaders end up with dozens or even hundreds of programs that run off in just as many directions and are sometimes only remotely related to the core purpose of the organization. Are programs like “Pets are People Too” or “Men Who Bike in Spandex Recovery Group” really central to the mission of the Church?

I’m not saying God doesn’t use them, but are those truly the best and most strategic ways to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus? They could easily be side projects people at your church engage in, rather than demand a line in the budget and organizational energy.

When you allow programs and ministries to spring up randomly, you get a misaligned organization that’s off mission.

And as anybody who has tried to shut down some of these random ministries knows, sometimes these programs can behave like fortresses. They very passionately defend their right to exist.

Engagement Is Directly Related to Involvement

And that leads us to the main problem.

If you remember only ONE THING about this post, remember this:

What people become involved in becomes their mission.

Did you hear that?

Get someone involved in something and it becomes their mission. It becomes their cause. Their rallying cry. What they wake up thinking about.

People are most engaged with what they’re involved in.

What people become involved in becomes their mission.

So . . . Only Do Things That Directly Align With Your Mission and Vision.
How do you create a great strategy that fully supports your mission and vision?

Only do the things that directly align with your mission and vision.

If you only offer a handful of things that directly fuel your mission and vision, people will become passionate about and aligned around your mission and vision.

At the Orange Conference, I talked about casting vision daily to align your team, view the breakout notes here.

At Connexus, we only do a few things.

A weekend service that your unchurched friends will want to come back to.

  • Great family ministry environments for birth to college built around small group and large group time.
  • Starting Point—an environment for adults to begin exploring their role in God’s story.
  • Community Groups—strategic mid-week gatherings of 8-12 adults who gather for accountability, belonging and care (okay . . . and cake).
  • Partner with two or three local and global partners around issues of compassion and justice (foodbanks, missions, etc.).

When people ask what else we do . . . we tell them, “That’s it.”

When they ask how they can be involved, we tell them serve, give, invite a friend and be part of a community group.

That’s it. That’s our strategy.

And Guess What?

That doesn’t have to be your strategy, but here’s the transferrable principle:

When you have a simple strategy that supports your mission and vision, people get passionate and aligned around your mission and vision.

They have no choice but to be. Because it’s all you do, and when they get involved, they become engaged.

It’s easy to understand, but it does take guts to implement.

Leave a Comment

Three questions:

How do you think strategy can align people around your mission and vision?

How will you simplify your strategy?

How will alignment strengthen your team?

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