“I can do this. One more good swing.” I lined up my final tee shot, confident that I could par the hole. Solid stance. Nice backswing. Good follow-through. A solid drive right down the middle . . . of the wrong fairway. I didn’t realize it until I started walking toward the ball. In my eagerness to shoot my best score ever, I aimed at the wrong green. I wanted to blame the course architect. I wanted to blame the guys behind me for not correcting my error. I wanted to blame my eyesight. But I could only blame myself. In retrospect, it was obvious. All I had to do was study the scorecard—the one with a diagram of every hole on the course.
As I look back on my 21 years as a senior pastor, it strikes me that the golf course was not the only place I failed to look closely at the scorecard. Too often, I did the same thing at church. I aimed at higher attendance and larger offerings. I focused on better programs. I was eager to grow the church, but I was hitting the ball down the wrong fairway. God gave me a scorecard, but I didn’t take time to review it. I was a little too certain I knew how to play the course.
I’m often asked what’s changed most since leaving the pastorate and becoming a missionary. The answer is simple yet profound. I use a different scorecard. I’m more interested in sending then gathering. I care more about multiplication than addition. I pray more for the growth of leaders than offerings.
A couple of resources have helped me make this transition. Gaining by Losing by J.D. Greear has been a big help. Last October, I mailed a copy to all of my supporting pastors. I was also impacted by Spark and Becoming Five, which are both available for free at exponential.org.
Don’t end your round by hitting a great shot down the wrong fairway. Take a fresh look at the scorecard. Reorient yourself to God’s design. It’s the best way I know of to make sure your church is up to par.