The best part of 2021 so far is that it’s not 2020. Can I get an AMEN?! One of the most frustrating parts of last year, from a church leadership perspective, was the near-constant state of having to react to negative circumstances. Reactive leadership is more like playing defense, where you don’t know what’s coming and can only react to what the other team throws at you, doing your best to stop it. Although there’s a necessary place for defense against what the world, the flesh, and the devil throw at you, your church won’t thrive if you’re only ever leading in reaction mode. It’s essential to also lead your church proactively (to be on offense, so to speak), taking back territory from the kingdom of darkness.

Jesus didn’t only call church leaders to protect and feed his existing sheep. He also commanded to go and make disciples of new people. There is both a time for defense and a time for offense. After last year, I, for one, am sick and tired of playing defense. Wouldn’t you agree that it’s time in 2021 to get back to some offense? Even though flipping the calendar to a new year didn’t miraculously make the problems of 2020 go away, we can flip the script and start leading proactively. So, if you are ready to get back to being proactive, to move on from just surviving towards some thriving, let me briefly introduce you to (or remind you of) Dallas Willard’s Vision Intention and Means (VIM) idea as a way forward.

If you want something to be different or better you need all three aspects of VIM in place. You need the vision, a clear mental picture of what you want things to be like; the intention, a real desire and commitment to do what it takes to get it; and the means, a plan or tools to accomplish the goal. An easy example is exercise. I used food a little too much to help cope with the stress of last year and need to lose several pounds and get back to exercising more (I’m sure no one reading this could relate to that at all!). So, I have a vision of losing a certain amount of weight in 2021 and getting back to running more. I have a mental picture of my pants all fitting well again. I also have the intention to do it this year. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired! I’m ready for a change. To this end, I signed up and paid for a 15K run later in the year, because I need something to work towards, and since I spent the money I’ll have to do it! Finally, I needed the means to do it, so I downloaded a running app to guide me in building up my stamina for the 15K. With the vision, intention, and means in place, I’m confident I’ll lose the weight and exercise more.

You can use the same principles to spell out the VIM for your church in order to help it thrive even more this year. Think about all three aspects.

  1. Vision: How do you picture your church changing for the better this year? What areas of congregational life do you want to see strengthened and more effective by the end of 2021? What would thriving look like in your church this year? Get specific, picture it, and write it down. Most importantly, pray and seek the Lord’s direction for the specific 2021 strategies he has for your church!
  2. Intention: Do you truly have the desire and commitment to make the necessary adjustments to see that vision become a reality? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get back to thriving? If so, great. If not, pray and ask the Lord to renew your zeal for the Kingdom work he has called you to.
  3. Means: Do you have the tools you need to accomplish the goals? What are they? What are the specific plans? It’s in this area that we may be able to help you the most!

The Anglican Revitalization Ministries of the American Anglican Council (AAC) are all about coming alongside you and helping you with the tools and resources you need to thrive. We know what it’s like on the front lines of church life, and we want to help you be on offense, to proactively lead your church. As you continue to make plans for 2021, consider utilizing some of these means to help be even more effective:

Revive!
This is our primary church revitalization resource, which includes church assessments, on-site consultation with a churchwide seminar, and coaching for six months to help you implement the goals you set. Watch this video about Revive! and see we can overcome concerns about covid!

Renew!
This is our church renewal weekend to help you bring the passion for the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit back into the life of your church. Often the first step to getting back to thriving is simply falling in love with Jesus again, or, as he would say, getting back to your first love.

Reframe!
This is our coaching and consultation services. Congregations can get hung up and stuck on all sorts of issues. God often uses a third party that is not a part of the system to come in and help ‘reframe’ how you’re looking at the problem and find the best solution to get back to thriving. If like many after 2020, you’re not sure the best way forward to thrive in 2021, we can help!

You can lead your church to thriving in 2021 with the right vision, intention, and means in place! The revitalization ministries of the American Anglican Council can help you do it. For more information on Revive!, Renew! or Reframe!, feel free to contact me at meldredge@americananglican.org. I’d love to help get you and your congregation started.

And may God bless your new year!

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