Over the next year CoHO will be moving beyond the borders of the Oakwood Community and establish a work in the community of Brookside. I had always thought the work of God started in Oakwood would just be in Oakwood. (God continually reminds me that I am following his lead).
This move was unlike the original work that began in Oakwood. In Oakwood, I personally responded to God’s call to come to the community and preach Jesus. In what will be our sixth year when this “hope community” is established in Brookside; it is a work that started with the owner knowing about the work in Oakwood and asking us to join his community in 2011. This time, God moved on the heart of another and so we continue to follow God’s movement.
My mentor speaks to me at great length that an organization must have some significant depth before that organization looks at expanding. This decision to move beyond our current community came with a great amount of prayer, care and diligence. Practically, it was necessary, before embarking on this type of move, that I did the due diligence to equip myself and those around me for the work had before us. So below are some steps I have taken in leading the organization in this expansion which really began in 2011. I hope that this will be a help to you in whatever type of organization that you are leading.
INTENTIONALLY STATE THE MISSION OF THE ORGANIZATION
I have been intentional over the last year and a half to state the mission of the organization and have other staff members recite the mission. This was a lesson that I learned when I was in Officer Candidate School. Every Soldier was mandated to know the mission and be able to tell it on a moment’s notice. In this act as well as the one that is to follow, I desire that the men and women around me be of the same mind. We are about the promotion of holistic community renewal in under resourced areas through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Take opportunities to share the mission of your organization and assess if the people around you are able to speak and know the mission.
INTENTIONALLY GROUND YOUR STAFF IN THE VALUES OF THE ORGANIZATION
As we expand beyond Oakwood, it will mean having individuals and initiatives spread over a larger area. With this type of growth it will require me to remind the team that what we do is rooted in five specific areas; Gospel, Presence, Advocacy, Education, and Integration. The initiatives or works that will blossom out of Brookside, blossom out of these five stems which spring from the mission. Grounding the staff in the values of the organization once again reinforces not only the people working with one mind but also the organization continuing to be consistent in its activities. If you want to see a great example of this, read the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament which records the renewing work of the people who were of the same mind and were spread across the city of Jerusalem rebuilding the wall.
INTENTIONALLY GIVE MORE AWAY
Do you want to know if this work is about you or something greater than yourself? Judge how much you are willing to give away. Giving more responsibility away means giving more of the credit away. The return on this type of investment in your team though will be profitable for your organization, your team and yourself. As others receive more responsibility, their planning, decision making skills and ability to handle more intense opportunities actually strengthens their capacity to lead. You want to have people who are being challenged and are growing in their capacity to lead in different areas of the organization. Additionally, you are strengthening your own leadership as more opportunities are created for you to observe your team in action and provide helpful critique that will be beneficial for their growth in the long term.
INTENTIONALLY STEP AWAY
Here is another difficult thing for a leader to do. Stepping away means you trust everything to your team in your absence. This past year I intentionally attended a think-tank on churches in under resourced areas in New Jersey that occurred during a week of busyness which included our staff meeting. The result was the organization continued on smoothly. What was I hoping to achieve? I was showing my staff I trusted their wisdom and decision making abilities in my absence. Show your team that you trust them and what you have deposited in them will come to fruition. If you do not trust your team, why do you have them alongside you to begin with?
The above steps require a commitment. You have to make a conscience effort to develop your team for the long term. When big things happen such as acquiring a new facility or expanding into a new area, the day of is not the time to begin the discipleship. Love your team and your organization enough to prepare them months and in this case years in advance as you discern what God is about to do with your organization.