In the previous post, which isÂ the first in this seriesÂ (Habits…),Â IÂ stated thatÂ ”effective churches are characterized by a healthy environment which fosters spiritual formation andÂ are continuously cultivating a missional mentality with respect to the world.”Â Hopefully this gives you a sense of where this discussion is headed.
Who doesn’t want to be effective?
Given the fact that effectiveness is the ability to produce a desired or decisive effect or result, we need to beÂ sure that it is God’s desire that we seek to satisfy. Life is too shortÂ to waste our time on inappropriate orÂ ineffective activities.Â AÂ wide variety of peopleÂ seem to agree. While doing research on this topicÂ I evenÂ found aÂ web site offeringÂ instruction on the fine art ofÂ procrastinating productively.Â Even though no one sets out to be ineffective, complications doÂ arise and we get off course.
So, what is our greatest challenge?
Some background might prove beneficial.Â Churches are driven by a variety of factors which can contribute to or limit their effectiveness. Actually, these influencers usually combine forces to one degree or another. One often seems to prevail, but all come into play to one degree or another. Here’s the list:
- PRECEDENT: Repeating what weâ€™ve always done just like we have always done it.
- PERSONALITY: Living into a single individualâ€™s or groupâ€™s agenda for how we â€œdo things round here.â€
- POLITICS: Schmoozing is the primary modus operandi, with cajoling and coercion being common place. The â€œinniesâ€ and the â€œoutiesâ€ know exactly who they are, because every activity becomes a battlefield, complete with winners and losers.
In this context—with these factors at play—we seek to be effective.Â These things often cause us to lose sight of the objective. Now, not just for theÂ sake of continuing the alliteration, I submit that our great challenge is to keep the main thing the main thing by remembering our God-given purpose.Â Where God’s purposes prevail,Â a body of Christians functions in such a way as to continue the incarnational presence of Christ in the world. Churches that are animated byÂ God’s purposes,Â characteristically embrace the notion thatÂ form follows function, regardless of precedents set or personalities involved, with church politics havingÂ little or no effect on congregational ministry plans.
How do we foster such an environment?
When we reflect on the early church, paying special attention to the first sermons preached in the Christian era, two ideas seem to dominate:
- Jesus, the Christ, is the central theme of every messageâ€” Acts 2:36; 5:42; 8:35; 17:3; 17:18 and 28:30-31.
- The kingdom of God is among them, being seen in the lives of those in whom the Spiritâ€™s produce is abundantâ€” Acts 2:18; 2:38; 5:32; 6:3; 9:31; 10:47; 11:24; 13:4; 13:52; 20:28 and many more.
Thus, it seemsÂ that an effectiveÂ church focuses on the exaltation of Christ as Lord and Savior, while being transformed into His likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit.Â It seems that allowing anyone other than Jesus or anything other than the gospel to become the focus of a churchâ€™s life is to elevate that person or issue to greater prominence than Christ Himself and veer off into idolatry. Thus, these two big ideas need to hold sway over our attitudes and actions, if we are to be effective churches for Christ.
What do you think?
Â© Bill Williams