Have you ever heard a basketball coach talking to their team during a time out? Everyone is huddled around each other listening for what to do next. They are not listening for the vision. The vision is clear. We want to score more points than the other team so that we can win. However, during the time out, while the coach is not casting vision, they are taking a few seconds to clarify strategy. They are taking those crucial moments in the game to align the leaders on the floor around the method they are going to use to accomplish the vision. They are getting everyone on the same page. They are drawing a straight line from what is happening on the floor to what they want to happen on the scoreboard. They are giving their players a goal and a strategy in a way that relates to the culture of the team.
We all work in kid and student ministry. Because we have committed to this sometimes difficult and invisible work, we can all agree on the vision. We want kids and students to have a faith in Jesus that they own and live out. We want them to have a faith that impacts their life and the lives of those around them. It is necessary to align the leaders we work with in order to get to this vision.
We can draw a straight line to vision by aligning our leaders around specific goals. Goals give us something to shoot for. On the basketball court, the goals are around a projection of how many points we need to score, how many fouls we have to give, and how many points we are going to give to the other team. In ministry, the goals might be the percentage of students who come back after their first visit, the number of baptisms at the end of the year, the number of parents that came to a parenting event. Whatever the goals, they have to be established in conversation with the vision. The goals should be clear, concise, and continuously communicated so that everyone is aligned around them. They can be quantitative or qualitative but they measure the effectiveness of our strategies. They keep us aligned as a team by removing the subjectivity of our preferences to the objectivity of the results. Remember, we want all the leaders working toward a common vision. Leaders will get frustrated if strategies are being employed to reach the vision but the strategies are not working. Goals evaluate those strategies.
We can draw a straight line to vision by aligning our leaders around strategy. The strategies tell us how we are going to get those goals met. When leaders are using different strategies to accomplish the same goal frustration can set in. Keeping with our basketball illustration, if we know we need to score 20 points before the fast half to get in front of this team, the coach is going to call a play that gets the ball to a strong shooter to give them a chance to get it in the basket. The strategy is the play that we call so that the goal can be reached. If your goal is so many baptisms in the next year, how are you going to get there? Is it by empowering leaders to have more critical conversations with their few? Is it by getting resources to parents so that they can have the conversations at home? Is it both? Strategies answer the question of “how” are we going to get to the “what” that is the goal.
We can draw a straight line to vision by aligning our leaders around culture. Culture is our way of operating in a specific environment. Culture dictates how our leaders treat each other and our families. Culture aligns your leaders around what the team values. Do we value fun at all cost or is safety important? Does our culture say we care about our leaders and teammates or is the role they fulfill the priority? Aligning leaders around culture helps to get everyone on the same page while employing strategies that reach for goals that move towards the vision.
Strategy, goals, and culture are all things that point to how the collective group is going to accomplish the vision. Getting everyone around those three items helps to align your leaders and get everyone on the same page. Aligning leaders minimizes division, saves time and resources, and gets us pointed in a winning direction.