You probably hear it as often as I do. “Trying to get them organized is like herding cats.” Whether it’s being applied to the stewardship committee, the congregational council, or the local minister’s alliance, it’s an apt simile whenever you come across a pack of individuals who are more interested in getting what they want than they are getting where they need to go.
This is never more true than when working with a local congregations. Recently I spent thirty minutes coaching a pastor and board chair in the fine art of conflict resolution and herd-culling (it’s pretty clear there will be no conflict reconciliation in this congregation). The issue facing the congregation is that multiple groups (cats) want to “lead” the church in different directions. And the biggest problem is that there has been no clearly defined, unifying mission or vision. And without a unifying mission and vision, every cat has their own idea about why the church exists and what it’s trying to accomplish.
The church wouldn’t be in this fix if it had started with a compelling, God-given mission and an awe-inspiring vision. So take a lesson: if you’re tired of herding cats, get a bigger, more tasty, succulent mouse.
Too many churches reflect a misguided mission mindset that puts member care above all else – and especially above the only Jesus-mandated reason a church exists: to make disciples.
And too many churches have adopted an uninspiring vision that’s either too safe or one that’s so heavenly minded it’s no earthly good.
Jim Collins suggested every organization needs a BHAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal. Your congregation needs a BHAG … a reason to move as one in a single direction. If it doesn’t then competing missions and visions and good ideas and some not-so-good ideas will fragment your church and at best you’ll have cats to herd. At worst you’ll have a cat fight.
So, if herding cats isn’t your primary calling, then:
- Read the Gospels until Jesus makes it clear to you exactly why he created the church
- And then hit your knees and stay there until you’ve caught God’s vision for your congregation.
Set a mouse like that loose in your congregation and your cats will chase it ’til the cows come home. 😉