Scott Hodge

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Who are you focused on leading?

Jun 3, 2008
25 Comments

One of the most empowering moments in The Orchard's journey of transition & change occurred a few years ago when someone said to us:

"Until you get your focus OFF of the people who are disgruntled, unhappy, unsupportive, and resistant to the direction God has called you to go, and ONTO those who are excited, supportive and on board, you will NEVER gain momentum and see a new culture created in your church." 

That statement set us free. 

It really did.  In fact, I can remember our team making several tough, but GOOD decisions that day that literally sped up our momentum by leaps and bounds. 

Some of those decisions had to do with things we were going to STOP doing.  Decisions that:

  • We were NO LONGER going to try and get people to stay at our church who weren't happy.  
  • We were going to stop spending time and energy trying to get the naysayers "on board" when it was very evident that most of them were not going to support the new direction.
  • We were going to stop allowing some of the "small things" to continue just to keep a few people happy (You know those programs and committees that are OPPOSITE of where you're headed, but you're keeping in place just to keep 12 people happy?  Yeah, those…) 

We also made some decisions about what we going to START doing or focus on being more intentional about.  Decisions that:

  • We would stay focused on God's mission for The Orchard NO MATTER WHAT.  Even if it were just the three of us in the end!
  • The focus of our leading and teaching would be turned towards the people we were reaching and those who were excited about where we were headed.
  • We would only engage in ministries, programs, and events that aligned with our mission – regardless as to whether or not every other church in town was doing it or not.  The mission would dictate everything – not what was "popular" with other churches or even what programs or events might have seemed "successful" in the past.

It wasn't easy, and yes, we lost a lot of people.  But….it eventually created a momentum that led towards reaching the people that God had called us to reach.  By 400% since 2003.


25 Responses to “Who are you focused on leading?”

  1. David says:

    Good post. As a pastor, I needed this reminder. Thanks!

  2. Scott Harris says:

    Great post Scott! I’ll be needing more of this stuff very soon!

  3. great post indeed! I have been meaning to tell you, that I DIG your blog, and I’ll link you soon!
    well done.

  4. This is so true. When Susan and I started focusing on the people who were hungry and on board with our vision it made all the difference, not only for the church but for us as well. I told people those first couple of years that you wouldn’t want to follow our church growth program!

  5. Chris says:

    Great post! Truth that can free a lot of leaders…

  6. Flav says:

    Scott, you & your story sooo inspires me!!!

  7. Dean says:

    Scott,
    Thanks for saying this stuff out loud (blogging it classifies as out loud). I am in year 2 1/2 of a church plant in Seattle and we just lost a boatload of people due to a decision we refused to make. It hurts deeply as some of those people were close friends. I’ve spent a lot of time questioning our decision-making process and tried to keep those people here almost to the point of a complete shutdown of our momentum. So, we’re in upheaval, but praying that God will use this pruning to bear fruit.
    I appreciate your heart and your words. You encourage me.

  8. Jason Cole says:

    I sincerely wish more leaders would accept this truth. Couple it with the famous, “It’s not about you,” (or me) and you have the foundation for moving where God is leading.

  9. Rob says:

    So on-target for where we are right now, too. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Here are some questions I ask myself in these situations:
    1. Are these people wolves or just messed up, potentially damaged sheep? If they are wolves, then my action is not only warranted but commanded. But if they are messed up, damaged sheep then I have a responsibility to tend them.
    2. Am I calling people to mission and equipping them in their unique capacities and giftings, or am I using them as resources to fulfill my vision? Often it is easy for me to dismiss someone because they are in the way of fulfilling what I/we are trying to accomplish, when in fact, they are who I am called to tend. I am reminded that I don’t just tend sheep who go along with the program.
    3. Am I being patient enough to allow the Holy Spirit to do His sanctifying work which takes time?
    4. Am I only able and willing to use those who have been sanctified somewhere else, where I get the fruit of some other pastors hard work?
    5. Am I confusing a get-along attitude with a sanctified person? Are they really humble and ready to serve? Or are they works based and ready to serve?
    6. Is there sin, and if so, have I confronted them personally? Are they unrepentant?
    Their is an additional danger in this area that we are prone to as well, and that involves whether we make a blanket statement of inviting difficult people to leave and get-along people to stay or whether we determine this on a case-by-case basis. Once we make the decision that difficult people should leave, we will likely not take the time to discern each case, but rather to see all difficult people as the problem, rather than an opportunity to minister.
    We should not be too quick to ‘amen’ asking a brother to leave the church or inviting him to leave.
    Thanks for the post Scott and thanks for serving us as we think through these issues.

  11. terry timm says:

    this is a strong, might i even say prophetic word i needed to hear at the very moment. two hours form now i have a significant meeting with my leadership team and we are right on the edge of something big. no looking back…

  12. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!, I LOVE THAT KIND OF STUFF!!!!!!! Go head HODGE, “PREACH”…I DIG IT. Do you feel my excitement, we need to hear more of that kind of stuff, because many of “US” are in stuck in slowly dying churches that are afraid to take those steps, and is in dyer need of a COMEBACK! Scott, when was your book coming out again? Get back to me on that.

  13. Pete Wilson says:

    Great stuff Scott. This is so true. Honestly, I have wrestled with this but totally get the importance of it. Thanks for the challenge.

  14. Jack says:

    Totally awesome! The old advertising for the Marine Corps popped into my head “We are looking for a few good men”. Jesus is looking for a few good men (and women)too!

  15. dave says:

    There is also the decernment needed to differentiate between difficult nay sayers and those who are behind the vision, but fighting the spirit of fear. I was scared at first and you did take the time to talk me through the fears and I am glad you did.

  16. Kim says:

    Rockin’ blog entry! Found you this morning through MMI, and look forward to reading more.

  17. prayerladyK says:

    Hi! I stumbled into your blog off of another blog. I think the post I have read from your blog are phenomenal… God has obviously used you were you are. I do just have a question about this post. Paul confronted Peter because of his behavior in Galatians 2. Isn’t it good to sometimes have persons so filled with the Holy Spirit who says “wait a minute, that may not be the right thing to do.” I completely understand your thoughts about doing the mission that God is leading you to do but I just wondered what happens if someone opposed something like Paul did with Peter. I think Rob in his comments really asked some great questions. Thank you for a thought provoking blog.

  18. Rex Ray says:

    Scott,
    Maybe I’m playing the ‘devil’s advocate’, but after watching the news last night about a cult in Abilene, Texas, I applied your post “Who are you focused on leading?”
    The leader of the cult has been arrested and is facing trial to which his reply was Scripture (They will hate you and persecute you etc.) Everything was “God was leading…God was etc.”
    It didn’t matter how many young wives or children this old guy had, or how many fancy homes his flock had paid for etc. since they were the only ones going to heaven. He always ended his statements with a smile, and I notice the bigger the smile; the bigger the lie he’d made by twisting Scripture.
    There were some that had left the cult. They were “disgruntled, unhappy, unsupportive, and resistant to the direction God has called” him to go. (Scott, do you recognize those words?”) One of them was his old first wife.
    Scott, these words leap from your post: naysayers, new direction, on board, God’s mission, mission would dictate everything, excited about where we were headed.
    All those words can fit cults. Remember how excited some were that was going to ride a comet to heaven by killing themselves? And “We would stay focused…even if it were just the three of us in the end” is right up there with ‘all Christians are wrong except us’.
    Scott, is your “new direction” something different than lifting up Jesus? I hate a sermon that doesn’t mention his name.

  19. Scott,
    Your post was insightful and right on. With all due respect, prayerladyK’s cult application was a real leap in logic. Cults have an authoritarian leader who cannot be questioned, cult leaders coerce their members into submission, and cults place their teachings over the Word of God – NONE of these can be remotely applied in your situation. The church would be better served by more people seeking God’s vision than playing devil’s advocate.
    Reading your blog has given me a renewed zest for ministry and reaching the world for Christ. Keep at it brother!

  20. Ted says:

    Rex:
    It seems from your post you are a “student” of paranoia. The fact that you made a huge leap in your logic from the cult arrests to the words that were written regarding leadership, is a little short-sided and out of context.
    In this case I don’t think your comment merits “playing the devil’s advocate”, as you’ve leaped beyond irrational into the abyss of illogical.
    My concern for you is that you, based off your post, might easily be swayed into a slippery slope of paranoia and spiritual suspicion.
    To take similar words that you heard on the news and apply it to Scott’s post would make me more concerned for you, than the words used in the post.
    In any case, my suggestion would be to tread lightly when hinting that someone’s “new direction” is cult-like. (C.H.)

  21. This is the difference between being church minded and mission minded…
    Always easier said than done… :)

  22. Carl says:

    Rob has some great questions to ask. One more:
    Are the people leaving the more mature believers in the church? Are the ones staying excited but immature? This should serve as a warning sign. Building a church on the immature can lead to great disappointment. I have seen this again and again in our church and in others in our community.
    I’m not at all suggesting this is true in Scott’s church. But every situation is different.

  23. Ray says:

    DUDE,
    WOW!!!!
    Ray

  24. Tiffany says:

    Great post, Scott! I stumbled upon your blog this evening, and your post really encouraged me. There’s a difference between someone who needs care and guidance, and someone who simply does not see or agree with the vision of the church, and often we’ll spend a great deal of time and effort trying to bring someone on board with the vision who is trying to push their own agenda or who does not support the vision or leadership simply because we DO care about them. For those cases, my prayer is that they’ll stop trying to change the church to fit themselves, and will actually find a local church to plug into where they are on fire for the Lord, can be on board with the vision, and can wholeheartedly support the leadership. My prayer for them would be that their motives aren’t selfish as they seek the church where God wants them to minister to others.

  25. Rex Ray says:

    To everybody,
    The name of the person who makes the comment is at the bottom of the comment and NOT at the top
    Carl and prayerlady K agreed with the questions they thought were made by Rob, but the questions were made by Jacob Vanhorn, and Martin Gureasko gave prayerlady K the blame that I (Rex Ray) had written.
    Most blogs have the person’s name at the TOP, but Scott has the name at the BOTTOM. (See, this is a “new direction” that Scott leads us…now I’m saying that as a joke.)
    In replying to prayerlady K and Ted, let me say that I wrote the words that Scott used were used by cults. I was NOT implying that he was a cult leader.
    I thought the six questions by Jacob Vanhorn, the example of Peter and Paul by prayerlady K, and the question of who was leaving the church by Carl were good.
    The words that Scott used are not only used by cults but by churches that let their pastor reach for a throne instead of Christ’s example of reaching for a towel.

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