I read an interesting post on Fast Company’s website today called “Popularity Means Nothing–The Missing Step to Startup Success.” In the article Bhavin Parikh and Aaron Schwartz make a convincing claim that alignemnt is a key factor for success. They share five ways of creating alignment. In this post I’d like to apply these ideas to creating missional alignment in a Christian community.
- Set Your Vision — Parikh and Schwartz begin by saying that a company should be able to say why it exists in one sentence. I believe that a Christian community should be able to as well. Why does your community meet? What are y’all about? Here’s an example: “Together, we want to connect with God, foster authentic community, and serve our neighbors.” Pretty simple to write…but the challenge would be aligning all you do around that one statement. Doing so would necessitate saying “no” to things that fall outside of the vision!
- Define Your Values — In order for a company to succeed, the people working there need to be able to make decisions. How do they do that? One way is by having clearly-defined values that help folks choose what might be best. The same thing holds true for a missional community. The community needs some core values or it will begin to drift from its vision. Those values might look something like this: Inclusivity, diversity, honesty, sharing, incarnation, and proclamation. Thus, when push comes to shove, any member of your community can call to mind your core values and make a decision in support of them!
- Identify your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) — Parikh and Schwartz label the BHAG as a goal 1-3 years out on the horizon that should be a stretch. It’s important to have a BHAG because it lets everyone know what is the company is driving toward. This can absolutely apply to a missional community. But a word of warning: many of us followers of Jesus will make a way-too out of reach BHAG. For instance, we might make it a goal that within the next three years we’ll eradicate homelessness in our neighborhood. This is just ludicrous! A better goal is more specific, measurable, and do-able (though a stretch). So perhaps something like this: We will multiply our missional community three times in the next three years. That’s a big goal that will help create alignment!
- Set Department Goals — Having a clear and inspiring BHAG is good but by setting department goals actual progress toward the BHAG can be tracked. So, for a missional community that might look like this: We’ll have more people at our communal worship times, we’ll have 85% involvement in intentional communities, and we’ll average 2 hours of community service a person a month. If those goals are met, alignment will be forged and progress toward the BHAG (multiplying) will come!
- Track Key Metrics — Measuring stuff is important. Duh. But what we measure might be even more important than the measuring itself. Parikh and Schwartz write: “At the end, though, you need to make sure that the metrics you track and the targets you pursue on a daily basis will help you hit your BHAG and thus fulfill your greater vision.” Thus, for a business to succeed it needs to track the right things well. How does this apply to a missional community? We need to track some stuff. Traditionally Christians in the West have tracked butts, buildings, and budgets (AKA attendance, physical space, and money). And while each of these things is important, so are intentional community involvement and community service. It’s been said that what you measure tends to grow and this is, for the most part, true. Why? Because the things we measure are things that we pay attention to and celebrate publically. Thus, we could possibly see significant positive change if we paid attention to and celebrated publicly intentional community and service!
Doing these five things can certainly build alignment into a missional community. If we did each of them better, then it would create a greater buy-in from everyone, thus helping us fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission!
What do you think? What other sorts of things might create missioanl alingment?