If I wanted to travel to London from my home in Atlanta, it wouldn’t matter if I had a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce – a car wouldn’t get me to Picadilly. A car can get me to the airport or to a port where I could get on a ship, but a car simply isn’t designed to travel across the ocean. No amount of wishing or claiming promises will make the car a suitable vehicle to reach the destination I desire. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a car to get me to anywhere on the contiguous mass. It’s perfect for that purpose, but not for ocean travel. If London is my vision, I have to abandon the vehicle I’m using and find another to get me there.

This analogy fits the situation for many church leaders. We may have a very good vehicle (our organisational structure and personnel) to achieve a limited vision, but the one we are currently using may not be able to take us to the place God wants us to go. Like the traveller, no amount of wishing or tinkering with the engine will solve the problem. We can try to put wings on a car, but it still won’t fly. We can attach a sail or a rudder to the car, but it won’t make the ocean voyage. We need a new vehicle, often a radically new one, if we’re going to achieve all that God has for our team and our church. This doesn’t make the current vehicle “bad.” There’s a difference between bad and wrong. The vehicle we’ve been using isn’t morally deficient or evil in any way. It simply can’t produce the results we need. It’s the wrong vehicle to take us where we want to go.

When I talk to pastors and explain this principle, they almost always instantly get it… I often ask, “Now that you see that the vehicle of your organisation can’t get you to the destination of your vision, which one needs to change – the vehicle or the destination?” This may seem like a simplistic, rhetorical question, but actually it’s crucial. When leaders … keep driving up to the beach on the East Coast and realise they can’t go any further toward London – many of them scale back their vision to match the capabilities of their organisational vehicle. That’s precisely the wrong solution! When they finally realise how their existing structure and personnel aren’t capable of achieving their vision, their frustration melts into a firm conviction to do the only realistic thing: change the vehicle.

Sam Chand, Cracking your Church’s Culture Code (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011), pp137-8.