Short-Term Wins Change the Game

Short Term

The athletes already know this. The spectators may not.

As the world watches the Olympic Games it is easy to be caught up in the passion for competition, incredible skill, and over-the-top commitment that it takes to become a world-class winner without recognizing that every one of these amazing people started with a few small efforts – a few short-term wins. One little win leads to another, and another, and… you get the idea. AND there are many amazing athletes, who are just as dedicated yet did not make it to the games, who know this intimately. It all starts with a few short-term wins.

One reason change efforts fail in a congregation is a lack of short-term wins. Either because small efforts are not attempted for fear of upsetting the status quo or worse, they are attempted poorly.

Successful short-term wins take at least these five things:

  1. A clear vision that grows out of listening to those you hope to impact,
  2. A reasonable and timely plan that involves others (people support what they help create),
  3. A pre-mortem (exploring what could go wrong before the plan is launched),
  4. A commitment to using at least seven forms of communication to shape expectations about this pilot experience (a few to get you started: Facebook, newsletters, from the pulpit, website, adult forums), and
  5. A post-mortem (evaluating what did happen before repeating the action).

Congregational leadership that wants to change the game can use short-term wins to incrementally move people from where they are to where they believe God’s mission is moving. Think about this as one win at a time.

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