Bishop Marianne Budd of Washington talks about focus and small steps in building up vital congregations.
She writes in her blog:
Imagine, I said, how good it will feel in six months or a year to have made progress on that goal alone. My intention was to help manage their expectations on returning home, so they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed and not succeed in addressing anything. Small steps move you forward, and from one goal’s success you can address another, and then another.
…[Obstacles] can feel overwhelming, because there are so many of them. But what if, as a community, we addressed one at a time? What one obstacle might your congregation overcome this year? Imagine how good that would feel.
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins uses the analogy of a flywheel to illustrate the power of small, sustained efforts to make significant change. The tasks before us are similar to the effort required to turn an enormous, heavy wheel by slowly turning its axle. It takes tremendous effort at first, turn by turn. But consistent energy in one direction over time helps build momentum and ultimately leads to a breakthrough. With that momentum, the wheel moves with far less energy required on our part to keep it going.
Just as there is no one specific turn that single-handedly leads to a breakthrough, there is no one specific effort, decision, or change that on its own will lead the congregational vitality and growth we desire. There is no magic formula or quick fix to the challenges facing our congregations. But slow, steady, prayerful effort to address obstacles one by one moves us forward. In time, momentum will increase, and we’ll experience a far greater fruitfulness from our future efforts because of the small steps we’re taking now.