The modern Christian church today finds itself at a crossroads: a two-decade decline in membership and attendance is slowly being reversed, yet many churches are still in a steady downward spiral and some may not survive. The Christian church in America stands on the threshold of one of the most explosive periods of evangelism and growth it has ever witnessed. Sociologists, scholars, and church growth experts have all observed a gradual shift in the religious attitudes and inclinations in the United States over the past decade. That shift is marked by a genuine yearning for the fundamental moral and spiritual values contained in the Bible.
Effective church leadership is seen as crucial to the process of capturing a vision for the future of an individual body of believers. According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, leaders must be able to communicate the vision and also inspire the belief that the dream is attainable (Weems, 12). Kanter also contends that leadership is not an individual thing, but rather finds its abode in the relationships between individuals (Weems, 13).
In the present analysis, we will examine the hypothetical "First Church of Woodside," set in a suburban Nebraska community. It is a moderately-sized church of nearly 500 members, and is well-respected within the community at large. We are told that it has effective ministries for children and singles, as well as "broad-scale programs serving the conventional religious needs" of its members. Some elements within the church believe that the time for facility expansion has come if the church is to be prepared for additional growth in the coming years, but the vision is not unanimous.
Set before the pastor and the congregation, then, is the challenge: to capture, clarify, and distill a unique vision for the future of First Church. As Weems indicates, such a vision cannot be generic, but must instead "fit a particular church at a particular moment in ...