There is one question I feared asking because I knew the answer would reveal what we really cared about as a church. My mind ran down all of the possible outcomes. Would there be a buffet of answers? If there was, then that would mean misalignment. Would there be blank stares? If so, that would mean either a lack of clarity or lack of passion. Or would it be a guessing game? That would be worse than the stares. Would they get it? Would they nail it? We had worked so hard at communicating our culture, but we needed to know if it had really sunk in.

Thought leaders say vision leaks, so I wondered and worried if I had communicated enough. Was it clear to them? There was only one way to find out. So I asked the question, the one question that would really reveal what we care about as a staff and ultimately as a church.

Asking the Question

Standing at the whiteboard with an expo marker in hand, I fired it off. Part of me wished it was a fishing rod so I could reel it back in, but it came off like a bullet. It was in the air, and there was no getting it back—no return policy, no refund. I can remember standing there feeling like I was the only guy in a firing line without a gun, and all the rifles were pointed back at me.

Fortunately, this question was more helpful than scary. I wouldn’t say my stress was unnecessary because the question really does bring out the mirror and expose how you have led up to this point and how well you have communicated as a leader. Beyond that, it reveals how your church is doing, both the good and the bad.

Gaining Yards

The question is simple. “What do we celebrate?”

In other words, what do we look at and call a win? You care about what you give high fives about, and what you care about gets repeated. We can celebrate moving the ball down the field, or we can celebrate stuff that is equivalent to running sideline to sideline and getting zero yards. Nothing matters unless you’re gaining yards.

So get with your team, get out your expo marker, ask the question, and write down what you celebrate. Cross out what doesn’t move the ball. Then think through what does and make sure you celebrate that. Don’t waste your high fives. They create culture. Make them count.

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom is the pastor of Valley Life | Camelback, located adjacent to the campus of Grand Canyon University.