Most leaders (volunteer or paid) find it easy to think about what they want to do and have and be after their ministry or organization grows. A preferred future is fun to think about. The current reality, especially for those in small churches, well, not so much. Here was reality at my first church:
- My annual worship budget: less than my current Wii bowling average.
- My band: Me. And occasionally Lori, a pianist who couldn’t read chord charts or leadsheets. So when she played, we had to do everything from the Maranatha! Green Book.*
- My sound system: Two words, squished together–RadioShack.
- My video tech: an 80-year old gentleman who sat 3 feet to my left and moved the transparency up and down (quite rapidly) on the overhead projector.
We can dream and scheme and spreadsheet our preferred future all we want. But no plan for future growth will succeed without faith-infused realism. Here’s what faith infused realism is NOT:
“We totally suck. There’s no hope. Let’s just shut this thing down.”
Is it really that bad? Maybe, but probably not. So think realistic, not fatalistic.
A person in a church of 100 pointing to his charts and graphs and explaining: “Our team will grow from our current musician/tech roster of 10 to a team of 40 in the next 3 months”.
Could it happen? Sure. But even if the church grows 50% in that time, you’d still be looking at having almost one-third of the church be on your worship team. So unfounded optimism isn’t great either.
Faith-infused realism is a brutal honesty about where we’re at (our current reality) with a faith that says we can and will grow, change and prevail no matter the difficulties. That’s one of the principles in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great**– Confront the Brutal Facts (But Never Lose Faith). [We don’t have time to cover it here, but Collin’s account of the Stockdale Paradox, which illustrates this principle, is alone worth the price of the book.]
Faith isn’t just a belief, it’s action based on belief. So faith-infused realism means that we need to do something about our current reality. Looking back at my first few churches, I saw the brutal facts, but rarely confronted them. Had I done so, I may have moved a few people off the team that were hindering growth. But more importantly, I may have dealt with some of my own hang-ups and issues that kept us from moving forward.
In some future articles, we’ll be digging into some practical ways to confront our current reality and build faith-infused realism.
*Btw, if you still have a Green Book stashed away, dig it out. It’s got some pretty darn good hymn arrangements.
** Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link to Amazon. I don’t endorse anything I don’t already own and love and think you’ll love, too.
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Get in on the discussion:
Tell us about time you’ve fallen prey to either fatalism or unfounded optimism?
Anyone have a story about confronting a “brutal fact” and how it turned out?
For more reading:
Here are a few resources to get you thinking about your current reality:
Small Church/Big Worship articles – different articles I’ve written and tagged as helpful for smaller church worship ministries. It might be helpful to start at the end of this list.
And you if you are in a smaller church (and live close enough) consider the Small Church/Big Worship Seminar – Sept. 24, in the Columbus, OH area. No laser lights, fog machines or Christian celebrities. And it’s priced for a small church budget.