Are you waking up to the sobering fact that your organization is clearly in need of a big restructuring—and that you’re the person to lead the way? Such a humble reality just might bring you to your knees in prayer—which is where our story begins.
Meet Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, the general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church—5,800 faithful congregations throughout the U.S. and 96 countries. The two of us met in the fall of 2013, as 80 full-time staff completed the BCWI Employee Engagement Survey, and a big-time challenge unfolded. We discovered it was time to start listening to the grassroots feedback of the denomination’s leadership and staff in a way that would unleash God’s unfolding purpose and plan.
Says Jo Anne, “As we listened to our people, we sensed God’s voice and wisdom saying to us, ‘This is the future I have for you.’”
Jo Anne and the denomination’s collective leadership translated the future into a very present, multi-fold, action-oriented strategy to address three, clear denominational goals: to increase attendance, conversions and baptisms. Such benchmarks were bittersweet. As Jo Anne recalls, “We learned that 50% of our local churches had no baptisms. We were appalled! What kind of business were we in?”
The strategy involved:
- Rebranding and clarifying the Wesleyan Church mission: “Transforming lives, churches and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.”
- Building on a daily practice and passion to pray. The denomination’s headquarters in Fishers, Indiana constructed a large open space and several additional rooms for group and individual prayer. Each employee enjoys a free, weekly hour of prayer, covered by the denomination.
- Print, video and online changed-life stories of church members, missionaries and staff around the world began to unite staffers, visitors to the headquarters, pastors and congregations around the world.
- A new, intentional commitment to diversity took hold in hiring and it strengthened the giftedness and talent in the church’s culture.
- An “open door” approach in every office and department at headquarters kindled new conversations and deepening connections from the cubicle to the boardroom. “And in valuing each other,” exclaims Jo Anne, “we strengthened the organization at what Steven Covey calls ‘the speed of trust.’”
In the 8 years since the strategy overseen by Jo Anne took hold, the number of worship attendees, new followers of Christ and baptisms in the Wesleyan Church has increased 30 percent in North America. Talk about a rebranded mission statement at work.
And to think this has taken place under the humble watch of a determined general superintendent, who knows what it takes to build the kind of a healthy, flourishing culture that drives a growing, impactful ministry.
“Know your people. Learn to trust them, as they learn to trust you. Call out their gifts and lift them up, and they will discover their God-given gifts. In fact, as this happens, you will see more of what God has in mind for them and for you and your ministry than you’ve ever realized.”
Know your people. Call out their gifts and lift them up, and you will see more of what God has in mind for your ministry.