Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, teaches that every company knows its “what,” a few know its “how,” but few operate – or even know – their “why.” I’d say the same is true for most churches … and in my experience, is absolutely true for all declining churches.

Take a look …

There’s any number of ways to get to your why. I recently reviewed Will Mancini’s book God Dreams and I’ve got my own book (as yet unpublished, but we’re working on that) titled If You’re Going to Herd Cats, You’ll Need a Bigger Mouse. But before Will or I were even born, Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of today’s Toyota Company, was advocating a “get to the bottom of it” kind of process that can be adapted for discovering your own “why” and perhaps your church’s “why” as well.

He called it the 5-Why’s

To build on Sinek’s Golden Circle, let’s start with the what. What do you do? What are your church’s outcomes that you’re trying to achieve?

For instance, in one church, they run a food pantry that has made the church pretty well-known in the community. So let’s apply Toyoda’s “why’s” to see if there’s an adequate vision at the bottom of it.

1. Why do you run a food pantry?

To provide food for those in need

2. Why do you provide food for the poor?

So we can share our faith in tangible ways

3. Why do you share your faith?

Because we believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life … and no one comes to God except through him

4. Why do you want people to come to God through Jesus?

Because followers of Jesus experience abundant living in Jesus Christ

5. Why do you emphasize abundant living?

Because discipleship touches (and changes) every area of people’s lives

In this case, the church embraced an Abundant Living why that launched ministries that focused on mentoring relationships for spiritual development, career betterment, financial security, and family stability.

The same Why’s can be applied to literally anything the church does to help you drill down to the reason behind anything (and everything) you do.