Give Your Church Permission To Say “No”

Written by Mogiv Team, Filed under Church Life, Communication, Uncategorized.

By: Ted Vaughn

(Note: This is our second post on church strategy and branding from Ted Vaughn. CLICK HERE to see the first one – about why your church needs to stop trying to reach everyone.)

Most every church has a mission, vision, and/or purpose statement. The best of these statements inspire and give high level perspective on why the church exists. They motivate and compel their members to action. Below is a great example from a local church I recently worked with:

“We exist to help move people into a deeper relationship with Jesus and we are a community of believers who love God and others, look for ways to express and deepen our faith, and proclaim hope to the world and this community.”

I love this statement. Phrases like “love God” and “proclaim hope” are very inspiring and motivating. They are also broad statements that could potentially encompass myriad ministries, staff decisions, events, programs, and resources.

However, in the case of the church above, this statement was being used to justify dozens of programs that the church could no longer sustain or execute with excellence. They had fragmented their congregation across dozens of various programs that had each become a mini-silo operating without much, if any, connection or awareness of the larger vision and mission. The church had a compelling mission – but a broken strategic vision.

Strategic Vision moves from the broad, all encompassing WHAT into the narrower and more specific HOW. Strategic Vision helps determine where resources are focused. It gives you permission to say “no” and conviction about when to say “yes!” It answers questions like:

  1. “What is our discipleship model?”
  2. “Who are we most able to reach outside the church walls?”
  3. “What handful of programs and events are essential and non-negotiable?”
  4. “Do we have the right staff and leadership needed to achieve the strategic objectives?”

Most churches I work with are trying to sustain an abundance of activities (programs, events, ministries, etc.), most of which they’d freely admit are non-critical. Like taxes, ministries are all too easy to start and near impossible to end.

Legacy, volunteer passion, fear of loss…all sorts of emotions play into church ministries, making pruning and ending them incredibly difficult. In my experience, churches that lack strategic vision will never find the courage to end anything. Clear strategic vision paints a compelling picture, and it requires that resources be focused. Every dollar and volunteer becomes so precious that even the smallest silo is unacceptable.

How is your church doing with its strategic vision?


Ted Vaughn is passionate about helping the local church identify and break-through its barriers.  As a consultant, writer, and speaker, he has helped churches in England, Canada, and throughout the USA achieve greater strategic clarity and mission impact. For over twenty-one years Ted has worked full-time in the local church.  With an additional 12 years of executive leadership experience in mainline denominational churches, Ted has unique insight into church leadership, governance, healthy culture, brand alignment, and strategic clarity. Find him at or on Twitter: @TedVaughn.


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