I’ve been arguing for a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” approach to priorities. To help with clarity, here is a list of things that “both/and” is not:
Both and is not:
1. An excuse for not having a clear vision/mission/strategy
2. A way of avoiding choices. You still have priorities to make
3. A naïve belief that you can do everything. You can’t. Look realistically at the resources God has given you to do what he has asked you to do for him.
4. A magic money tree (we’ve not had any of them since the General Election).
5. Just allowing circumstances to dictate what you do.
6. A fatalistic approach to divine providence. Yes, you trust in God’s providential care and sovereignty but exactly because of that, you plan/decide/act.
7. A way of avoiding difficult conversations. You are still making choices and ideas that are not in line with your vision, not the right priority now or not feasible have to be said “no” to. Actually, the point is that this approach is meant to encourage the honest conversation. When our potential “Families and Communities worker” expressed an interest in a possible role, by moving away from seeing this as in competition with other priorities, we were able to talk with her honestly and exercise genuine discernment about what was right for the gospel, the church and her family without distraction. We were clear, that the answer might still be “no.”
8. Having to accept the first person, project, idea, resource that comes your way. This flows from point 8. We’ve said “no” to several people and options over time.
9. A luxury for large/wealthy churches. The scale of decisions may change but the principles remain. In fact, “either/or” prioritising tends to be the starting point of a church that is reasonably comfortable and can choose not to do things. It has a reasonable budget, perhaps the odd legacy etc to keep it going. The church that is at the point of closing and/or has no money will have to make some “either/or” choices. It can’t do everything, it will need to get back to its priority vision and mission to cut a lot of unnecessary stuff out. However, it will still reach a stage where there are some “both/ands” that are unavoidable. I hope we don’t reach the stage where our church is having to choose between having somewhere to meet or having workers available. However, if we reach that stage, then I for one will be turning over every stone to make “both/and possible because I don’t think we have the luxury of either/or.
10. A decision to do half of one thing and half of the other. That is another choice completely -and generally speaking not advisable.
11. A legalistic, absolute rule. Think of this as more in the proverbial/wisdom line. All I ask is that when you think you are being presented with an “either/or” choice that you step back and check “Have we read the situation properly? Have we looked at all the options? Is there another way forward?”
12. An alternative to faith, prayer and total dependence on the Lord.