The first month of every year is a good time for churches to take inventory on what God did in the past year. Many churches even look at the Year Over Year (YOY) numbers to see growth in certain areas, like attendance, salvations, baptisms, and offerings. But what do you do with the numbers? After you've taken stock, what should your church do next?
What Went Right
The first thing to do after you take inventory is to celebrate what Jesus did last year. All too often, we want to move ahead to the next task, to get ready for the next series, or move on to everything we have planned this year. But, before we do that, all pastors need to celebrate what Jesus has already done. Maybe your numbers did not turn out the way you planned but that does not mean you don't have something to celebrate. If even one life was changed through your ministry in 2016, take some time to celebrate and thank Jesus for what He has done.
What Went Wrong
The second thing to do is make an honest assessment of what happened last year. Coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons often talks about "Tell The Truth Monday." That's the time every week when the team looks at film of the previous game and talks openly and honestly about what went right and what went wrong. This is not the time to worry about players getting their feelings hurt. It's a time to see all the good plays but also the mistakes that happened that need to be corrected. Every winning team--and church--has to assess what needs to be improved. No successful organization is ever satisfied with where things stand today but instead want to constantly improve themselves. Pastor, you're not leading a team or company but the greatest thing going on the planet: the local church. Assessing what went wrong and needs to be improved will take you a long way toward reaching your community for Jesus.
Finally, after you've celebrated and made an assessment, you need to make changes. This is the toughest part of taking inventory. Nobody likes change. Change makes us uncomfortable because it will often lead us to make difficult decisions. But you will never have the local church Jesus has called you to lead if you don't make changes.
Think of the pruning process described in John 15:1-17. When Jesus takes away the dead branches in our lives, it isn't easy and can even be painful. But, we will never reach our potential unless we allow Him to prune the pride and selfishness in our lives. The same is true for our churches.
Pastor, Jesus has big plans for your church (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to equip you to reach your community for Him. But, in order for that to happen, you'll have to make changes. When you do, you will unleash the potential of what He can do through you and your ministry.
Question: What change or changes is Jesus leading you to make? Step out in faith and have the courage to lead your church through the change He is leading you to do.