“Your Alternate Agenda is Not Welcome Here.” (part one)
“Your alternate agenda is not welcome here.”
At first glance, that statement sounds like the epitome of arrogance. The ultimate exclusionary tactic. The words of someone fearful of losing power or influence.
Especially if those words come from a pastor, church staff member, or volunteer leader. After all, what does the Bible say about the priesthood of the believer? The spiritual gifts given to the saints? That whole “one body with many members” thing?
In this quick two-part series, I want to unpack that statement with a few reasons it’s right, and a few reasons it can be wrong. Before we get there, let me ground us in a hypothetical situation: let’s say that you have a new attendee at your church or a new staff member on your team who comes in with all barrels blazing. They have a ton of fresh ideas – many of them great ideas – that they believe you should implement. However, most of those ideas are a few degrees off from where you currently are. It’s not that it’s a bad or evil agenda, it’s just an alternate agenda.
And while we may never say those exact words with that exact tone (I didn’t define the tone, but I’ll bet you did as you read it), there’s still a point where we should stick to our guns and say – or demonstrate – “your alternate agenda is not welcome here.”
Three reasons an alternate agenda should not be welcomed:
1. It dilutes who we are.
If we – as a congregation or a staff team – have clearly defined the calling God has placed on us in this season, a “similar yet different” agenda muddies those waters. If we have accurately stated our why, then switching horses mid-stream can cause a bit of whiplash.
2. It confuses and frustrates our people.
We often say that vision should be repeated until we’re sick of saying it, because it’s just at that point our folks are beginning to hear it. Hearing a different vision not only causes whiplash, but confusion. “Wait a second…six months ago we were all about ___. What happened?”
3. It’s exhausting.
If we continue to add new elements (or new directions) without taking away the old ones, we are ramping up activity but minimizing impact. Running a race is tiring, even if you know the route. But running a race with a continually-shifting finish line is impossibly demoralizing.
“But wait,” you protest. “Let’s go back to that one body with many members thing. Doesn’t God send fresh people with fresh ideas to improve the local body of Christ? Yes. Yes he does. And in the next post, we’ll explore why and when an alternate agenda should be welcomed.