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This We Must Do! 3 Simple Questions to Answer

Most congregational leaders and leadership groups lack FOCUS. The urgent constantly distracts from the important.

Clear, singular focus: “This we must do!”

See the note to the right about the church in one region of Tanzania has focused on seeing the witchdoctors converted to Jesus. “This we must do!”

So, here’s a simple tool: Do it with your leadership group. Elders. Governing board. Church council. Staff team. Leadership retreat. Adapt it and do it with your spouse! We credit our friend Rich Robinson with sharing it with us.

Do it with congregational leaders in your denomination. OR, in your community.

Once you have your answer, the task is yours as a leader(s) to stand up, be counted and lead. To summon every bit of congregational energy on your focus. You can always tell who the leaders are in the room. They’re the ones not blaming someone else for the challenges in front of them.


Setting: It’s five years from now. Things have not gone well in your congregation. It’s declined. Failed to engage a younger generation. Slipped into mediocrity. Blown up or closed.

Question 1: What went wrong? What caused the decline, decay or death?

Question 2: What are the 3 mistakes the congregation made over the last five years? Wrong turns? Battles it lost? Procrastinations?

Question 3: As leaders, what decision do we need to make? What action do we need to take—now!—given the snapshot of our church’s future.


At PLI we believe the future for churches is very bright in the United States. We see vibrant communities. But, the pathway forward will not be one that we simply stumble toward. The rapid and unrelenting secularization of our culture has made it virtually impossible for churches to continue doing what they did 5 or 10 or 20 years ago and expect to thrive or even merely survive.

Virtually every congregation will paddle through the white waters of enormous, fundamental change—quite possibly for the better! The risk is that congregational leaders will come and go from monthly meetings. Bemoan their problems. Fail to focus. Allow the congregation to drift toward an unpleasant future. See everything as urgent. Do nothing different.

Rodney Starck maintains that at the end of the first century there were a modest 25,000 Christians. 200 years later? 20 million! The majority of the Roman Empire! 200 years of sustained, exponential growth, with virtually none of what we perceive to be necessary for the church and in the face of great adversity, hardship and often persecution.

Is it possible that the decision(s) you make in the next few months from the exercise above could start your congregation on a similar path as the early church?

If you decide to do this exercise, please tell us the result and the action you determine to take.

Forward this to the leaders that need to see this and invite them into the conversation.

Thanks for not looking around for who to blame!

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