In the previous post, which is the first in this series (Habits), I stated that effective churches are characterized by a healthy environment which fosters spiritual formation and are continuously cultivating a missional mentality with respect to the world. Hopefully this gives you a sense of where this discussion is headed.
Who doesnt want to be effective?
Given the fact that effectiveness is the ability to produce a desired or decisive effect or result, we need to be sure that it is Gods desire that we seek to satisfy. Life is too short to waste our time on inappropriate or ineffective activities. A wide variety of people seem to agree. While doing research on this topic I even found a web site offering instruction on the fine art of procrastinating productively. Even though no one sets out to be ineffective, complications do arise and we get off course.
So, what is our greatest challenge?
Some background might prove beneficial. 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. Heres the list:
PRECEDENT: Repeating what we’ve always done just like we have always done it.
PERSONALITY: Living into a single individual’s or group’s agenda for how we “do things round here.”
POLITICS: Schmoozing is the primary modus operandi, with cajoling and coercion being common place. The “innies” and the “outies” know exactly who they are, because every activity becomes a battlefield, complete with winners and losers.
In this contextwith these factors at playwe seek to be effective. These things often cause us to lose sight of the objective. Now, not just for the 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. Where Gods purposes prevail, a body of Christians functions in such a way as to continue the incarnational presence of Christ in the world. Churches that are animated by Gods purposes, characteristically embrace the notion that form follows function, regardless of precedents set or personalities involved, with church politics having 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 message— 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 Spirit’s produce is abundant— 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 seems that an effective church focuses on the exaltation of Christ as Lord and Savior, while being transformed into His likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit. It seems that allowing anyone other than Jesus or anything other than the gospel to become the focus of a church’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?