Mind the gap: Stepping carefully from vision to implementation
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
If you've ever traveled to London and used their subway system, you've heard the phrase "mind the gap." It's their way of alerting you so you don't trip over the gap between the platform and the train.
There's another, much larger gap we frequently deal with in our churches. It's the gap between vision and implementation.
Vision is exciting and inspirational. It gives us a target to work toward and offers a picture of a preferred future. The idea of reaching people for Christ through new ministry programs, events or services keeps us going on tough days. However, your church's vision remains somewhat ethereal until your team takes specific actions to move it from dream to reality.
Implementation is detail-oriented and requires consistent, timely effort. It's easy to get pumped up and motivated about a project that supports a big vision. The challenge is in the day-to-day actions required to see in real life what we see in our minds.
It's the not-so-glamorous work of developing a plan, finding a building for the new campus, recruiting volunteers, booking a speaker, purchasing sound equipment, paying vendors, and much more that reside in the gap.
Vision and implementation are vital components for any church. Unfortunately, many teams get stuck in the gap and never fully achieve the vision God has for them.
So, how do we "mind the gap" between vision and implementation?
- Keep the vision in front of your team: This may seem counterintuitive, but part of minding the gap involves keeping the vision, well, visible. It’s tough to see the finish line when you’re searching for the best price on chairs for the new sanctuary or running yet another errand. Your behind-the-scenes team members need you to help them see how their efforts make the vision happen.
- Develop a plan: Invest time up front to document the tasks required to make this event or new program launch a success. Plan the work on paper before you do it in real life. This forces you to think through multiple scenarios and lets you make most mistakes on your plan (where they're much easier to correct) instead of during the project. Then, adjust your plan as you gather more information or things change.
- Celebrate incremental victories: If your team is working toward a new church building, a new program or other longer-term effort, find smaller wins you can celebrate along the way. Did you sign the contract for the property? Celebrate! Do you have over half of the money raised to pay for the renovation? Celebrate! The key is to savor those wins and share the excitement with your entire team. You’re all working hard, and it can feel like drudgery if you lose sight of the vision. Counteract that by celebrating along the way.
Minding the gap between vision and implementation requires strong leadership. From encouraging your team to walking them through the planning process, you set the tone. Don't let your staff fall into the gap and lose heart. Serve your team as they serve the church and help them mind the gap.
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