For years, pastors and leaders have asked me how their organizations can get and keep “it.” That intangible buzz, passion, or momentum that can be felt when you’re a part of something special. When teams have it, everyone knows it—even though they have trouble defining precisely what it is.
Fascinated by this topic, I decided to study it more. I looked at our church and other ministries to find out why some teams have it and others don’t. While there’s not a plug-and-play formula, I was able to identify seven principles that contribute to it:
Willingness to fall short
Heart focused outward
The first thing I noticed about successful organizations is that they always have a clear vision. Ministries that have it are filled with people who understand and believe in the vision. Without that, you will have people who might like the ministry but don’t understand where it is going.
In my experience, I’ve discovered three levels of vision buy-in. Ministries without it have people at levels one and two. Ministries with it tend to have more and more people moving to level three.
Level 1: The people believe in the vision enough to benefit from it.
Like the person who benefits from the service at their favorite restaurant or exercises at the conveniently located gym, these church attenders are people with a constant consumer mindset. They come to church because they like it. It’s easy. It feels good. It’s convenient. They receive something from the ministry. To them, that’s what is most important.
Level 2: The people believe in the vision enough to contribute comfortably.
Like the person who drops some change into a donation jar or participates in a neighborhood watch program, these are people who were consumers but are ready to contribute as long as it’s easy. They’re happy to help if it doesn’t cost much, doesn’t take much, and doesn’t interfere with their other priorities.
Level 3: The people believe in the vision enough to give their lives to it.
These are the people who understand the vision and get it. They recognize their lives are not their own. They belong to Jesus. They exist to serve a cause greater than themselves. They find joy in sacrificial giving and fulfillment in selfless serving. They become part of the lunatic fringe, radically committed to seeking and saving the lost and making disciples of all people. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to do what Jesus has asked them to do. They’re all in, holding nothing back, bringing their all. They don’t go to church; they are the church.
Everyone craves a cause worth fighting for.
Though people may drift toward comfort and complacency, they don’t really like it. Deep down they desire more. Way more. Everyone craves a cause worth fighting for. We want to feel like our lives are significant and have purpose. We love to be part of something bigger than ourselves, something making a real, even an eternal, difference. As leaders, it’s our role to seek God, see the vision, communicate it in a compelling way, and invite people to give their lives for the greatest cause on Earth – the cause of Christ.
So, consider your organization and what level best describes where your team falls. If a large portion of your team is bought-in at level three, your organization probably has it. What do you need to put in place to keep it? If the majority of your team is bought-in at levels one or two, what can you do to lead your people toward level three buy-in?
Where there is no vision, people struggle, drift, and wander. Where there is a vision, the people have focus, power, and energy, and they’re able to make a larger impact.