Short-sightedness, astigmatism, floaters and cataracts are eye conditions. When we have them they blur our vision—we can’t see things clearly. We consult an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, depending on the problem, to make a pair of eye glasses (or contact lenses) or to have laser eye surgery done. We do this because we want visual clarity—to see, to read, to drive, to enjoy the beauty around us.
The need for clarity is not just limited to our physical sight. Just as much, we need mental and spiritual clarity; and this, not only for the individual, but also for a corporate entity like the church. Without clarity, the people perish, may not be quite what the Bible says, but it is the truth! And I am afraid this happens all too often in the church, to the detriment of relationships and the church’s effectiveness.
Without clarity there is confusion. The Senior Pastor makes decisions on matters like this? I thought it was the Chairman of the Board who makes the call.
Without clarity there is misalignment. My CG is studying the book of Jonah. I didn’t know that it was mandatory for all the CGs to do the study on “Unity” this month.
Without clarity there can be no efficiency. I’ve been walking around in the church building for the last 10 minutes because the signages are so poor, I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to be heading.
Without clarity there can be no teamwork. Chong Beng, you were supposed to bring the pizza. Joe was to bring the drinks. Now we have too much coke and no pizza for our Youth leaders’ meeting!
This is by no means exhaustive, and I am sure you can think of a few more nasty consequences that come from a lack of clarity in the church. Often it has to do with communication; that is, the poor quality and the ineffective means of communication. However, more serious is the lack of clarity at the source; that is, the people who are giving the instructions, making the decisions, leading the direction—they are not clear themselves. And, it is inevitable that they will not be able to provide clarity to others.
Areas That Need Clarity
Some of the areas that a church needs corporate clarity includes:
Clarity of purpose. Some churches don’t have a clear purpose about what they are doing or where they are heading. Those that do often just hang up their vision statement on the wall or emblazon it on their website’s homepage. But the leaders don’t talk about it or rally the people to pursue it. Fewer still have achievable and measurable goals to lead the members to fulfil what they like to do (or what they think the Lord wants them to do).
Clarity of Values. By values I don’t mean the church’s doctrinal beliefs. These are important, and no church should be without absolute clarity about their theological beliefs. However, the values I am referring to here are about a church’s organisational beliefs as a corporate body or group of people who have banded together to serve the Lord and His purpose. People will only stick together and work with one another to the extent that they share the same values. If they don’t, they won’t. Confusion in this area leads to uncertainty and disillusionment. Clarity and acceptance of the shared values is like glue that holds the team together.
Clarity of Philosophy of Ministry. Conflicts in the church today have very much less to do with doctrinal issues. Sometimes it is over values. But really, most times it is over the philosophy of ministry—the way things are done. Hence, if it is unclear it is a cause for misunderstandings and dragging-of-the-feet which can escalate into outright conflicts. Worship-wars is in part due to a conflict of philosophies of ministry. So is the multiplication of cell groups, the number of paid staff the church may engage, and the amount of money the church should save as against giving it away to support missions. Every church needs clear philosophies of ministry for all the critical areas of church life and organisation. (Read my earlier blogpost on Philosophy of Ministry here.)
Clarity in the Lines of Authority. This an obvious biggie! Who’s in-charge? Who’s responsible? Where does the buck stop? Who’s got the final say? Every church needs to get it right and make it absolutely clear to everyone.
Again, the above list is not exhaustive. But I hope it is plain enough that your church needs clarity! Here’s a point of application for you. What is one area in your church that lacks clarity? Work on it today. What’s unclear that needs clarity? Who are the stakeholders that should be consulted? Write three to five statements to provide clarity and get all the stakeholders to agree on them. Communicate it to the church clearly, repeatedly, creatively, and in as many ways as possible. Then repeat the process in another area. It will get you clarity and save you a lot of headaches and heartaches.