Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Matthew 28:16-17
You are probably familiar with the 80/20 principle of organizational dynamics. It holds that, in any organization of any kind, once it hits its stride and “normalizes”, 20% of the people are doing 80% of the “work”. I’m sure you have heard at least some version of it. I dislike that principle as it relates to the church. You probably do as well. I have tried and tried over the years to kick against it, because it is not indicative of the “revolution” I believe Jesus intended. If you are a leader in the church, you have probably tried to work against it as well, with varying degrees of success.
Want a sobering reality check? I’m turning over the balance of this post to those very people with whom you are feeling frustrated. I will let them speak for themselves. Listen to some of the 80%…
I am that dynamic, gifted young leader in the church whom you ask year after year to take on a responsibility and I just keep turning you down. I have doubts.
I am one of the huge percentage of your church members who is pretty steadily there for worship but have never darkened the doors of prayer meeting on Wednesday night. I have doubts.
We are part of that handful of couples who seem so spiritually mature in Bible study discussion but who choose not to be there more than half the time. We have doubts.
I am one of your elders or even staff members who start off so well but whose commitment dwindles over time and you begin to lose …
And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 2 Cor. 8:5
I think we, as church leaders, are guilty of making excuses for our people and their occasional luke-warm commitment to kingdom activity.
I did a radio interview last year about Trusting God’s People…Again, the book I co-authored with Debbie Williams. The interview request kind of caught me by surprise, since it had been a few years since we launched that book. I was grateful for the opportunity to do it, because that is still very much a topic about which I am passionate (people wounded by the church). Thanks, Shane Finch, for that fun opportunity!
It was one of the more interesting radio interviews I’ve done. Shane asked me a few questions I was not at all ready for (I’m hoping he had the mercy not to run my answer to, “What song do you wish you had written?”–wow, how embarrassing was THAT answer!). But one question really brought me under conviction: “What do you see the Lord doing through you in the year 2020?” I knew what my answer SHOULD be. It should be, “Whatever He wants to be doing through me.” That should be how all of us answer that question, because, as Christ-followers, we should all be do totally given to Him that He is doing absolutely everything and anything He desires to do through us.
That, I believe, is what Paul meant in his letter to the Corinthians about the Macedonian believers who had given so very much out of their poverty and persecution. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord… I think I have a pretty fair understanding of what …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
Church unity is not merely a program. The church in South Africa understands this.
That, I think, is the biggest difference I have noticed between the church in South Africa and the church in America. From my very first trip there with a team of teacher/facilitators, overviewing the Five Principles of Unity, I noticed that the teaching was received just a little differently than we ordinarily experience. That first trip, we did conferences in 14 churches in Cape Town, just like we often do when we take our conferences “on the road” into other countries. The people were engaged and attentive, as is often the case. But it was the discussion after the conferences that was different.
When looking into what our ministry does with churches, I often have pastors and church leaders ask something along the lines of “How does this program work?” The implication is that it is some kind of well-contained magical seminar that can bring unity to a church in 5 easy steps. And after a few hours of conference, there are often comments of gratitude and such for an entertaining, engaging conference. All of this happens despite our warnings that the Bible’s guidance for preserving the unity of the Spirit is no easy task and cannot be learned in a 4-hour conference. Rather, it will take a deliberate commitment on the part of the church body to make some significant changes in their lives and in how they handle relationships.
But I often find that churches (and this is particularly true of the church in America) are not really seeking after changed lives. They are seeking entertainment and maybe even challenging teaching, but they’re not …