We spend too much time telling people what they ought to do and what they should’ve done and not enough time catching people doing something right. For the vision to take hold, the leader must embody the vision. Then, the guiding team must embody the vision. Then, others will follow suit. As they do, we need to, “catch them doing something right.” We need to get on the stage and say, “There – right there – that’s the win. We want to see more of that.”
Without short-term wins the change process will never gain traction. Fairly early on we need to find some early successes, no matter how small, and put a spotlight on them.
I teach a party-driven plan for growth. I can reduce it to a slogan: “Invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month.” If you wanted this to be a reality in your church, you would start by teaching on it. You might have me in to do a conference. You might buy some books and give them away. Change starts with information. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Then, you would model it. You would get a small team to move with you.
Then – and this is crucial – you would look for places where the vision was catching hold. You would listen for stories of people who have, “given Friday nights to Jesus.” (Giving Friday nights to Jesus is a metaphor for an informal night of laughter and fellowship in your home with friends inside and outside the church.) When you find that someone does this, fire off an email that says, “Way to go!” You might get them on the stage or mention their story in a sermon. Catch them doing something right, get a spotlight and shine it brightly on them. The Bible says to honor those who work hard among you.
In contrast, let’s look at how people normally try to effect change. They have me in for seminar and hope for the best. The aggressive ones will buy books for all the teachers. These are good first steps—especially buying my books! But they do not go far enough. We must get some early wins and put a spotlight on them. People must see their peers embracing the vision. Having an outside expert in to speak is not enough.
One more example: suppose your vision is to get serious about discipleship. You buy some books. You have Jim Putnam in for a seminar. You do a series of sermons on discipleship. What else do you need to do?
Catch people doing something right. Find someone who has had a quiet time 100 days in a row, get them on the stage and interview them. Find someone who is in a discipleship relationship and write an article on your blog. Have six people stand on the stage and quiz them on the verses they have memorized. Make sure you get people who will ace the quiz.
We tend to try to start a fire by throwing down matches and hoping for the best. We need to fan the flames. We need to catch them doing something right.