Two Dangers of Copying Ministry Practices from Others

Here is a typical scenario in local church ministry…

In the spring, while at a conference, Danny attends a breakout session on small groups. Though the breakout session leader spoke passionately about the “why” of small groups and the importance of a solid ministry philosophy beneath the surface, the vast majority of the questions from those in attendance were about small group practice: How many people in each group? How often do you launch new groups? How often does leader training occur and in what format? What are the leaders called? How does…? Danny feverishly takes some notes on small group practice, notes he plans to implement when he returns to his church.

Several months later, Danny has lunch with a respected pastor of a church he has looked up to. He is really grateful for the time, and because he only has an hour, he wants to make the most of it. So he fires off a plethora of “ministry practice” questions: How do you plan your weekend worship services? How do you plan your teaching? How do you…? Danny feverishly takes down some notes that he deems very practical and plans to implement them as soon as possible.

Danny, who loves the Lord and is constantly looking for practical ministry help, clearly has a tendency to copy ministry practice without considering the theology and philosophy beneath the surface. He is not alone. Many church leaders jump straight to practical questions, looking continually for insight on church practices. And this by itself, without a deep commitment to a solid theology and ministry philosophy, is dangerous. Copying ministry practice can result in one of two errors:

  1. Shallow ministries: If church leaders run to copying ministry practice, the result is ministries that do a lot of things without a reason for the things that they do. Over time the church leaders will not be able to articulate why their group ministry functions as it does, why the kids ministry operates a certain way, and so on. The ministry practice is not built on a ministry philosophy that is connected to a theology that serves as the foundation for the entire church.
  2. Schizophrenic ministries: When church leaders look first to ministry practice, they often succumb to the temptation to grab ministry practices from a variety of sources and expect the result to be healthy for the church. But in many cases the underlying theology or philosophy beneath the surface of a particular practice is often contradictory to a ministry practice already in place. And while the leaders feel they are only blending “ministry practice,” they can unintentionally blend contradictory ministry philosophies that cause the church to head in different directions. Some ministry philosophies don’t blend well together.

In Creature of the Word, Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and I offer a framework that I believe is very helpful for church leaders. Instead of running straight to practice, we encourage church leaders to first understand the undergirding theology of their churches and the ministry philosophy that guides how they think of church ministry. Neither a shallow ministry nor a schizophrenic ministry will be as impactful as it could be, as God intends the ministry to be.

Read more from Eric here.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Vision Must Be Birthed in the Heart Before It Is Grasped in the Hand

Antione de Saint-Exupery, the French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

So true. This quote reminds us of the importance of vision, that we all need something big and grand birthed in our hearts. In fact, we actually need it more than we need to grasp all the specific processes to get there. It’s true in building ships, and it’s true in discipleship.

Use the Right Tools

But often in our churches as we seek to lead people in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, growing further up and further in, we tend to jump past vision and into process. The exhortations abound, and so do the systems that go along with them. We inundate people with Bible reading plans, Scripture memorization tools, helpful hints to deal with the bad breath and moody attitudes that come with fasting, and nice moleskin journals to record our deep and profound thoughts.

These are all good tools. In fact, they’re more than good; they’re essential (though the moleskin might be debatable.) We need processes whether in building boats or in making disciples. There’s no doubt, in the case of building ships that people do indeed need to collect wood. They need to shape hulls and fashion masts. They need to process the right formulas to know about things like buoyancy and weight limits, wind patterns and ocean currents.

But they also need to breathe the sea air. They need to feel the freedom of the wind in their hair and get a sense of the adventure that lies on the other side of the ocean. That wind and smell is what fuels the processes that must be in place in order to actually get the work done.

Don’t Skip the Vision

In the church, the strategy of discipleship can never trump the vision behind discipleship.

Think about what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12: “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

This is process. It’s work. It’s a continuous, strenuous effort employed one decision at a time by which we work out our salvation. But notice too that Paul didn’t jump there immediately. Instead, he helped the Philippians “breathe the air of the sea” in the first 11 verses:

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:1-11).

Smell that? That’s the salt in the air. That’s the vision for the wide-open sea. That’s the imagination arresting vision before us as disciples of Jesus. We are following this One who is above every other, and as we are, we are being made like Him in our obedience.

This week, don’t be too quick to gather the wood. Maybe it’s time to help them feel the wind.

>> Read more from Michael here.


Do you need help with casting a vision for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What is Break-thru Clarity in Ministry?

Break-thru clarity is a simple thing that makes a huge impact in your life.  It’s a powerful thing that will dramatically change your ministry.

Most of our days are filled with the daily stuff. And the daily stuff is always pushing you here and pulling you there.  Sunday is coming. People are needy. There’s never enough time. Church life goes on.

Amidst this daily rhythm—sometimes flow and sometimes grind—we find the beauty and blessing of break-thru clarity. Maybe it’s easiest to describe what it feels like when you have it.

  • It’s the power of seeing the same things in a whole new way.
  • It’s the surge of energy that rushes through you and doesn’t seem to stop.
  • It’s the freedom of perspective that suddenly makes prioritization easy.
  • It’s the satisfaction that comes when the staffing puzzle finally make sense.
  • It’s the confidence of a much more vivid 3-year vision.
  • It’s the thrill of a team that wins, again and again.

When God brings you break-thru clarity, nothing feels better.

But for most of us, too much time has passed since our last break-thru. The funny thing about break-thru is that we forget what it feels like; we forget how bad we need it.

How does this happen? Once we taste a little bit of success in ministry, which is always nice, there is plenty to work on. Something is going well and that is good enough. We stay busy. We start something new. We grow. We start another thing. We hire another staff person.

Or maybe you inherit a church with a legacy or we attain a position with prior influence. There’s a lot to protect, a budget to steward. There are expectations from the past and assumptions about the future built into every conversation.

The end result is the same. While you read this there are a hundred other things to read and a thousand other things to do. And you aren’t the only one person in the equation. Your church has other leaders, lots of volunteers and other staff.  They too have thousand things to do to.

 This collective activity becomes the enemy of break-thru clarity. Just imagine…

  • When a potential member asks a question like “Who are we as a church?” or  “Where is God taking us?” what do you say?
  • If someone throws a curveball into the conversation like,  “Are we really making disciples?”  how do you respond?
  • When an elder asks, with a hint of sarcasm “What is our priority for this year?” What’s the next word out of your mouth?

Break-thru clarity is about living and leading with answers to questions like these.  Break-thru clarity is both something you experience and something you have as a team.

What is break-thru clarity?

It is a God-given idea, well understood and skillfully articulated, that brings notable and immediate progress toward realizing your vision.

A simple conviction drives us on the Auxano team: Life is short enough and ministry is hard enough not to have break-thru clarity.  We exist because break-thru does not; or at least not often enough.

When’s the last time your team experienced break-thru clarity?  Where in your ministry could you use break-thru today?

To connect with me and the team at Auxano about break-thru clarity, fill out this short form below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Didn’t Jesus Do More?

I am amazed at all Jesus didn’t do while he was on earth. His public ministry only lasted three years, and in those years his scope of ministry was incredibly narrow. He is God after all, it seems like he could broaden his scope a little. Think about all the things Jesus didn’t do:

  • He didn’t reform the government
  • He didn’t solve orphan care
  • He didn’t wipe out poverty
  • He didn’t improve medical care

While Jesus taught principles that applied to all of these situations, he could have had an incredible impact in any of these areas. He could have ended abuse by the Romans, he could have launched a system of compassionate care for orphans, he could have ended poverty, or he could have instituted medical practices that would save millions of lives. But he didn’t.

Though Jesus had the opportunity, resources and ability to address many needs he limited himself to a very narrow mission; “to seek and save the lost”. Everything he did pointed to that one very succinct task. He knew that in this fallen world there will always be hundreds of desperate needs screaming for attention, but only one can be most important. Although he healed people, fed crowds and occasionally raised the dead, Jesus didn’t make any of those the focal point of his time on earth. He knew the more time he spent focusing on secondary issues, no matter how desperate or urgent, the less time he had for the main thing.

As church leaders we don’t claim to be God (well most of us), but act like we can accomplish more than Jesus. We believe our ministry or our church should be effective in a dozen or more areas. We feel obligated to meet as many needs, to fill as many gaps, to respond to as many crises as possible. How can we say we love God and not feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate the children, fight for the underdog, shelter the homeless, provide for the handicapped and adopt the orphans? All of this while we promote small groups, conduct church services, perform weddings and funerals, host VBS, send kids to camp, and counsel people in crisis.

When Martha complained that her sister wasn’t doing enough Jesus shared the power of a narrow vision, “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” The authors of The Four Disciplines of Execution call the trouble of many things “the whirlwind” and the focus of the one necessary thing the “Wildly Important Goal”. Their premise is that most individuals and businesses (I’d add churches) spend so much time on the whirlwind (many things) they don’t have time for their Wildly Important Goal (one thing). What if we patterned our lives, our ministries and our churches after Jesus and really drilled down to the one thing? We will always have the whirlwind to contend with, Jesus certainly did, but imagine the power of spending at least 20% of every day on our one Wildly Important Goal? Here are the questions we could ask:

  • What is the one thing our church (or ministry) absolutely must accomplish in the next year? How will we know we accomplished it?
  • What measurable activities will lead to accomplishing that one thing?
  • How will we keep score? How will we know we are actually accomplishing what we say?
  • How will we hold each other accountable to the one thing?

In over 30 years of ministry I’ve encountered very few churches with this kind of focus and discipline. I wonder what would happen if we actually followed the pattern of Jesus and focused on the one thing.

Read more from Geoff here.
To learn more about resources that will help you focus on “the one thing,” go here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Patti O. — 10/14/13 9:08 am

If you are truly following Jesus commands as laid out in the Gospels, why do you need metrics? It is as if we need to know we are making a difference. To what end? Self-aggrandizement? Jesus told us to feed and clothe the poor and visit the sick and imprisoned. The institutional church is so busy taking care of its own needs(programs, finances, divisions, growth) that it certainly doesn't have time to do more than one thing. It is such a pity.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Value of Vision, Part 2: Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart

The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. 

For over thirty years authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (The Leadership Challenge) been asking people what they most look for and admire in a leader, someone they would willingly follow.

Their research has consistently found that the quality of being forward-looking is second only to honesty as the most admired leader characteristic. 

Unfortunately, it’s something that too few fully appreciate, and too many devote almost no time to developing.

And how does a new leader develop the capacity to be forward-looking?

The answer is deceptively simple: spend more time in the future. You have to carve out more time each week to peer into the distance and imagining what might be out there. You have to take the time today in order to have the time tomorrow.

Because focusing on the future is the differentiating leadership quality, you need to spend more time reading about, thinking about, and talking about the long-term view. Here are a few ideas that Kouzes and Posner recommend:

  • Set up a futures research committee to study potential changes and developments in areas affecting your  organization.
  • Put together a team to continually track fifty or sixty publications that represent new thoughts on trends in your domain.  Ask them to prepare abstracts of articles they think have relevance. A smaller team can then pull the abstracts into reports for use in planning and decision-making.
  • Have all the people in your organization regularly clip articles from newspapers, magazines, and Web sites.

Circulate the ideas generated and discuss the impact of trends on your products, services, technologies, and constituents. Use these discussions to help you and your organization develop the ability to think long-term.

It’s your job as a leader to lift people’s sights and lift people’s spirits.

You must remind others that there is a larger purpose to all this doing. You and they are working hard in order to build something different, to make something new, to create a better future.

Invest the time today in tomorrow’s future.

Read their entire article here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Kouzes and Barry Posner

James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are the coauthors of the bestselling and award-winning The Leadership Challenge, and over a dozen other books on leadership including The Truth About Leadership, Making Extraordinary Things Happen in Asia, A Leader’s Legacy, Credibility, and Encouraging the Heart. Jim is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership and Barry is the Accolti Endowed Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Follow them on Twitter @Jim_Kouzes and @TLCTalk and find them on Facebook Jim Kouzes and TLC Page.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Vision for Our Cities

As the main purveyor of influence to surrounding communities, the city is where culture is formed. The Christian desire to shape culture with the gospel therefore requires Christians to live and be active in the city.

Repeatedly throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s concern for cities and the people within them, both those inhabited and dominated by his people, like Jerusalem, and those that were not, such as Nineveh and Babylon. God is just as concerned today about cities as he was back then, and therefore so should we.

There are many reasons why we ought to be concerned about the city, not the least of which are the following:

1. The cities are where people are and increasingly will be.

2. The cities are the key centers of influence culturally, spiritually, and in nearly every other way.

3. The city is God’s invention, part of God’s plan and purpose, and as such should not be regarded as evil. Life in a city is our eventual destiny—or at least our eternal destiny will revolve around a city.

 

If our intent is to change or have an effect on a city, we have to engage at many different levels.

+ We have to proclaim Christ to individuals and communities. That means church planting, church replanting, and church revitalization. With all of its faults, the church is God’s chosen means of converting and transforming individual lives and the life of any given community. More Christians living out the gospel in the city will bring significant influence and change. We need to help people gain an in-depth understanding of the application of the gospel to their lives.

+ We have to “act justly and to love mercy” (Micah 6:8).

+ We have to engage culture. Cultural forms are the primary way truth is communicated. Christians need to write, make films, and produce music and other forms of artistic expression. To change a city, you have to change how people think and feel.

+ We have to help Christians apply their faith in all that they do, whether business, parenting, education, or anything else.

 

Dr. Timothy Keller, founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, has developed key teachings on the importance of the city to all churches in this document.

>> Download this powerful and insightful teaching from Dr. Keller here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Your Church in the Wrong Business?

What is the core mission of the local church? I think we can learn something by looking at Peter Drucker’s two pivotal questions for business leaders:

  • What is your business?
  • How’s business?

These have always been difficult questions for the church to answer. In the middle ages through the Renaissance the church was in the Architecture Business. Cardinals and Popes built larger and more ornate cathedrals culminating in the massive St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The church was measured by the beauty of the art produced.

The question continued into the Sunday School years when we thought we were in the Education Business. We created classrooms and curriculum and attempted to teach the masses. The measure was knowledge.

Eventually we left the Education Business and moved into the Warehouse Business. The goal shifted from educating the masses to accumulating the masses. We built larger and larger facilities to store more and more members. The answer to question one was, “More!” and the answer to question two was, “Really good (for an ever growing number of mega-churches).

The Warehouse Business morphed into the Entertainment Business. To maximize our storage facilities we had to draw larger crowds with a better product. We created a cottage industry of professional videographers, graphic artists, sound engineers, musicians and lighting technicians around the need for an ever improving show. The artists guilds of the Renascence were reborn as worship schools. Business was now measured by both quantity and quality.

Recently another shift has begun as leaders discover their warehoused and entertained members live lives tragically similar to those outside the church. They are shackled by divorce, addiction and materialism just like their non-church attending neighbors. Architecture, Education, Warehousing and Entertainment have all fallen short of the goal of making biblical disciples, little Christs.

I think all of the past phases have a place in the overall purpose of the church. I believe in education, and artist development, and reaching as many people as possible with the Gospel. I believe that most leaders are sincere in their efforts to make disciples even if the outcome isn’t what they had hoped. I think the fundamental challenge is that we still haven’t answered Drucker’s questions.

  • I think we are in the Moving Business.
  • I think business is poor but improving.

I think our fundamental call as church leaders is to assist people in moving from where they are to where God is calling them. Every building, every program, every paid staff member engaged in the Moving Business. “How will this activity, this ministry, this sound system move people from where they are to where God is calling them?”

If we are in the Moving Business, then we probably need to stop simply measuring the beauty of our buildings, the education of our members, the number of people in our warehouses, or the awesomeness of our product. If we are in the Moving Business then our primary measure is movement; are our people moving from where they are to where God is calling them?

How would you answer Drucker’s questions? What business are you in? How’s business?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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