Does Your Church Have Permission to Dream?

By Jason Stonehouse

Intentional Churches recently had the privilege of installing ChurchOS at Emmanuel Church in Johnstown, PA.  Emmanuel is located in a town of about 20,000 just an hour east of Pittsburgh, and has been through more than its share of challenges. If you can imagine it, Emmanuel has experienced it and has grown through it.  When we met with them, we were amazed and inspired by the team’s resiliency and the faithfulness of the people who have weathered countless storms. Through ChurchOS, we invited them to remove the constraints, step past their limitations and dream big. Today we are celebrating their hard work, courage and willingness to dream outside the box!

Working with hundreds of church leaders over the years, we have learned a common constraint or limit.   Many of us as church leaders feel our hands are tied, we’re limited and we aren’t allowed to dream. In the church world, it can manifest itself in specific areas like this:

  • Facility – “This is all we have to work with. We have no other options.”
  • The Past – “We’ve never done that before. We won’t be able to . . .  Our people won’t . . .”
  • Authority – “I don’t have permission to even consider that. I’ll just stay in my own lane.”
  • Finances – “We don’t have the money to do that.  Our people are too poor . . too rich . . uncommitted . . we’re in a tough economy . . no one will give to this.”

Have you heard these comments?  While there is truth to some of this and the lids or limits are there, the truth is, sometimes our biggest limitation is in our mind. Many times, our lid is not a crazy, out-of-the-box idea, but simply a belief, a wall if you will, that we’ve built in our mind. There are all kinds of opportunities and solutions if we would just allow ourselves to dream a little.

ChurchOS helps a church team rewire its thinking, gives it permission to dream and then realize its dreams.  What if you had no constraints?  Pick one of the four areas above and dream a little.  

To help, we have teams answer three questions that help them think beyond constraints:

  1. What do we really want? 
  2. What would have to be true? (Dreaming)
  3. What price are we willing to pay?

If we get through the first two, we tend to short circuit at the third question with, we can’t do this because our people won’t . . ., one of the most common responses. 

Consider your facility.  Maybe you’re at a church where you’ve never been allowed to consider or dream of other options. This is just the way it is. 

But the issue with facilities involves more than finances and feasibility. We actually communicate our values to a first-time guest who enters our building just by how we allocate space. What would I learn about what you value by walking through your building? Before a guest talks with a host or reads a brochure, you’re sending messages about what’s important to your church by the way you’ve set up your facility, whether intentional or not.

For example, we all value kids, but what does your kids’ area communicate? Is it conveniently near the worship center (because we value kids, safety, and parents)?  Or is it a 10min walk across campus, in a basement, or spread out where it requires that parents arrive 20min early just to drop off multiple kids. Truth is, many church teams don’t talk about or consider other options because they’ve not been encouraged to. We recently heard, “I didn’t even know I was allowed to think about that!” 

As a great church leader, you must be willing to be honest and objective, to lose the sacred cows and give your team permission to dream!  Imagine what could be, align around the Great Commission and prioritize your resources to accomplish it. When you start to realize that there is much more at stake than finances or opinions, you will find a way to make anything happen!

Intentional Churches

About Intentional Churches

Intentional Churches partners with churches nationwide to develop a vision and plan to double their Great Commission impact.

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