In this series of posts concerning five phases a church must learn and experience in order to either move toward or remain in a state of growth and health I have identified the first three: Assessment, Identification, and Vision Development. Now comes the fourth phase, which is often the most difficult. It is called Adjustment.
In the Adjustment phase leaders are finally forced to make real decisions. Based upon the research done in Assessment, the profile created through Identification and the new plan established in Vision Development, it is now time for real action. The theoretical and theological meet the practical.
It is not enough to simply come up with a plan. I have seen far too many churches work through a Vision Development process, come up with pithy and clever banners and bumper stickers and then never put anything into action. One of the reasons I believe this occurs is they miss this crucial next step. The last phase is Implementation which I will discuss next time. Many want to hop right to that and at best, they often see short term results only. That is because they did not prepare the people and the pathway first. Adjustment does that.
In the Adjustment phase, certain things might have to be stopped or started. People, programs, projects, budgets and more might all need to be moved and tweaked in order for the actual vision plan to work. This process includes both spiritual and practical adjustment. This level of honesty and leadership requires courage and faith and frankly, guts.
It is crucial that a legitimate Assessment and Identification phase be carried out to prepare the church for the most objectively biblical process at this stage possible. Adjustment cannot be based on subjective opinion. That is how wars begin. Instead it must be based upon the careful study and teaching of Scripture already conducted in these earlier phases leading to the development of the new plan. That provides the best chance for people to understand why change is needed and what change is going to need to take place.
I strongly encourage you to bring your lay leaders along with you during this entire process so that when this point hits, they are on the same page with you. Teach and warn your people about the process that is taking place so they will be ready also. Then, based upon the best knowledge you could research, begin to change those things that will sit on the tracks and prevent the train from moving forward.
You must develop clear pathways to defined standards and outcomes. But then you must actually determine and engage in a process to walk down those paths. How many obstacles stand in the way? What are they? What has to be done to remove them? Adjustment means I identify these existing barriers and start and stop to get them out of the way for the vision plan to be implemented. Sometime read Isaiah 62:10. Hear the prophet declare how the stones must be removed so a highway can be built up for the people. Stone removal. I call that real Adjustment!