What happens when our focus has a major shift on the field?
We’re going to assume that this question doesn’t refer to obviously POSITIVE shifts. Positive shifts are a lot easier to deal with and to celebrate. Perceived negative shifts, on the other hand, can be a problem (read that: “teaching opportunity”).
Notice we used the term “perceived” negative shift. Many times, in the providence of God, changes which we think are negative at first, turn out to be positive, or at least neutral, in the end. e.g. – While the evacuation of all missionaries out of China as Communism swept the country was universally perceived as a tragedy, in the long term God has used it to stimulate and strengthen the cause of Christ and His church far beyond all expectations. Now, there are still major deficiencies in the church at large in China; and there are still widespread concerns for institutionalized persecution; however, the growth and development of Christian witness in China against all odds has been very encouraging.
Having stated the above, what about those shifts that seems genuinely negative and detrimental to the goals of the ministry focus? Well, count on Romans 8:28 being true! Apparent setbacks and difficulties, even rapid retreats, do not automatically mean that you should give up your strategic focus goal. If your strategic focus was legitimate before the catastrophic event, it is probably still valid after the event. Though, you might have to go back to the planning stages just to figure out a different or new way to approach achieving your goals. You’re likely going to be forced to build more time into the plan; you might have to wait on the Lord and pray in other personnel to do it. You might have to put the focus “on hold” and do something else for a year or more, until the environment or presenting problems change enough to approach that goal again.
Probably the most important thing is to not lose heart. Pray. Communicate among your team and with all parties involved. Keep people informed about the decision process and whatever alternatives you and your leadership might be considering as solutions or alternatives. If you want to maintain some continuity and momentum with the original focus, you may choose something else that is supportive of those goals, though different, or you may choose something that is tangentially related (e.g. – in geography or in personnel) though quite different in outcomes.
The test is about strategic value and feasibility.
Does the major shift on the field prevent the original goal? or, it is just a setback? Does the major shift eliminate some key component/s to achieving your strategic focus goal/s? or, can it be approached with slightly different resources to aim at the same goal/s? Does the major shift take the focus goal out of feasibility? or, is there a related goal equally strategic but different than originally considered?
No matter which way you turn on this, if you are sincerely seeking God’s glory and counting on His leading and sovereignty in all things, you will probably not make a mistake. You will be able to announce whatever adjustments are decided and continue, with momentum and continuity, to pursue the new adjusted or revised strategic focus with the support of your congregation.