In an April 23 Bloomberg Surveillance interview, Tom Keene put this question to Rick Heitzmann of FirstMark Capital LLC: "What is the strategic vision that you perceive at Apple?" Heitzmann replied, "I think that's what's missing. I think there's a strategic direction. There might not be vision. And I think people are looking for the vision of what Apple is going to be both as a hardware and more importantly a software company."
How is the church doing compared with Apple? Let's play with this a bit:
"What is the strategic vision that you perceive at your church?" ____________________________________ (you fill in the blank). If you can't immediately write it down, maybe a parphrase of Heitzmann's answer fits:
"I think that's what's missing. I think there's a strategic direction (shaped by the Bible and the Book of Discipline's reminder that "the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.") There might not be vision. And I think members, guests and people in the community are looking for the vision of what the church is going to be …"
Scott Galloway, Chairman of Firebrand Partners, was part of the same interview. Keene said, "The biggest risk for strategic officers is that they get distracted." Then, he asked Galloway, "What do they need to focus on at Apple to maintain that world class brand … ?"
Galloway said, "What Bill Clinton said about America is what I'll say about Apple: There's nothing wrong with Apple that can't be fixed with what's right with Apple … They took the most successful consumer product in history to that point, the iPod, and they made it a button on the iPhone. Most companies would never do that."
Do pastors and church leaders (strategic officers) get distracted? The church has a world class brand--the Risen Christ--that has literally changed the world at many pivotal points in history. "What do church leaders need to focus on to maintain that world class brand?"
"There's nothing wrong with the church that can't be fixed with what's right about the church."
The essence of worship, faith education and evangelistic mission have remained steady throughout church history, but the forms, shapes, expressions, institutional structures, metaphors and modes of communication are always changing. The increased pace of change creates both stress and fresh opportunity for the "strategic officers" of the church.
The church, when faithful to the biblical message, is a self-correcting organism. Our modus operandi is repentance, or metanoia (literally "change mind"). Our strategic mission is to change, or transform, the world. Each congregation must determine its strategic vision--how mission is uniquely expressed in its community.
- Ted Leach