Clarifying directionYou know that to get anything done, you need to cast vision. But once you do, it’s time to get more specific about precisely what you are trying to get done.This clarification process is best done together with your team.

For example, say your church has a vision for getting more engaged with the surrounding community and also for compassion and service. That’s great, but it could look dozens of different ways. What direction do you want to go with it? Tutoring neighborhood kids? Helping with refugee resettlement? Caring for the elderly with meals and companionship? You’ll need to narrow your focus a bit if you’re going to accomplish anything specific.

To a degree, your direction will depend on the opportunities in the community surrounding your ministry. Who has God placed in your path? Who has God placed on your heart? How has he equipped you to be able to help? Spend time as a team discerning God’s voice. What direction is he leading? What could that look like?

One helpful exercise when embarking on a new direction is called “Achieve, Preserve, Avoid.” Essentially, you brainstorm answers to these questions:

  • What do we want to achieve?
  • What do we want to preserve?
  • What do we want to avoid?

These questions can be done in any order. Sometimes you’ll want to start with preserve or avoid. In any case, answering these questions will help you get a better sense of the specific direction God is leading you. It moves you from clarifying your general direction into setting priorities and planning. You get a better sense of what the ministry will actually look like if it’s successful.

For example, if you had asked the first century apostles these questions, how do you think they would have responded? What did they want to achieve? They wanted to spread the good news of the gospel, particularly into gentile territories. What did they want to preserve? The nature and character of God, and his history of bringing redemption to his people. What did they want to avoid? Things like circumcision and dietary laws that they felt gentiles did not need to observe. As they went into new cultures with pagan practices, the apostles had to consider which of these to preserve and which to avoid. And they had to keep foremost in mind what they wanted to achieve as they made disciples in these new regions.

Don’t just answer these questions by yourself; work through them with others. Your team is an essential part of all of these kinds of discussions as it reaches out to surrounding communities. Together you will be able to hear from God and clarify specific direction much more effectively than you would alone.