The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross–and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms.
As a novice church planter I was told to focus on: converts, leadership development, missional communities, connecting with city leaders, contextualization, strategic planning, social networking, engaging preaching, membership development, and contemporary worship. Those are all good, even needed. I agree with (most of) them. Yet, in focusing on so many things, it is easy to lose focus on the main thing.
For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year.
If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end. I think you’ll find hope there.
- Am I doctrinally compatible with the church?
- Am I the right type of leader for this congregation?
- Will I have a passion for the community?
- What are the true expectations of me?
- What are the expectations of church members?
- What are the issues of conflict the church has experienced in recent years?
- What are the members’ greatest memories in this church?
This is a complicated, fallen, evil world; Christians can expect to suffer - hey, we all die in the end, no matter how jolly we might feel at points in the interim, so we had better get used to the idea; Christians are no more exempt from depression than they are from cancer or strokes; and the idea that these things are necessarily linked to our lack of faith, to our personal sin, to our outlook on life, or, indeed, to anything intrinsic to us, is nonsense and unbiblical.
I wanted to share some advice for things I feel we have learned and that not enough folks are talking about. At its core, this list is a quick mind-dump of the practical advice I want to give parents with young kids after years of doing it.
Like many things, productivity isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. It's highly individual, and every bit of advice you read—including ours—should be considered as such.