Tag Archives: numbers

Does the Church Have a False View of Self?

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  1 Timothy 1:15-16

eye in the mirrorDoes it matter whether or not Paul was in fact the “foremost sinner” before coming to Christ? Or, is the more important point that he perceived himself as such? Yeh, I think so too. It is the self-perception on this issue which matters most.

I think  two of the biggest problems for most Christ-followers today is (1) having a false sense of who God is, and (2) having a false sense of who we are without him. The gospel is difficult in the American culture because there are so many in this culture who, frankly, do not feel the need for a savior.  What’s worse, the church has become less effective as those of us in the church have tended to forget for ourselves just how desperately we need a savior. Still.

Churches, you see, can have a false sense of self just as well as individuals…we can actually stop remembering who we are without God. We can get so wrapped up in “doing church” that we lose sight of what matters most. Specifically, here are five ways I have seen us have a false sense of self…here are some lies we sometimes believe about our church:

1. We’re better because our music/preaching/buildings/programming/resources are better. Truth is, we are probably not better at all. But IF we are better, it is only because of the work of the Spirit among us. All the stuff we do…is just stuff. …

Relevance and Fruitfulness

Tuesday Re-mix:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.   2 Peter 1:5-8

spoiled bananasIt is an important question to ask ourselves as church leaders…is our church being effective?  I do not mean that in terms of numbers.  I think numbers of baptisms and numbers of people in worship and numbers of dollars in the budget are all important metrics for us…but nothing matters more than the question of whether lives are really being changed as a result of our efforts.  That, after all, is what we are supposed to be accomplishing as a church: changed lives.  And if we are NOT being effective, if we are rather unproductive and irrelevant, then what can be done about it?

As it turns out, for God’s people, making “relevance” all about music and worship styles and the latest trends in children’s ministry is a lot like making “quality” of a book all about its cover…it’s not that those things are not important, it is that they barely scratch the surface of quality, relevance and effectiveness.  That is probably why, when Holy Scripture addresses genuine effectiveness and productivity of our faith, it doesn’t talk much about forms of worship, musical styles, youth curriculums or cool murals on the walls of our preschool space.  Rather, scripture ties the effectiveness of the church …

The Measure of Your Ministry

Tuesday Re-mix –

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Corinthians 3:1-3

I will be the first to admit I have validation issues…O.K., maybe not the first to admit it, but I do get to that admission eventually. 🙂  What other people think of me probably matters more to me than it should…words of affirmation are definitely how I feel loved (thank you, Gary Chapman).  Add to that my (mostly-healthy) competitive nature and then stir in my very American-public-school-achievement orientation, and you have a recipe for a man who is all about constantly assessing his successes versus his failures.  It is important to me.  Maybe it is important to you too.

I measure everything.  I measure my case load and my billings at work.  I measure my workouts and my sleep hours at home.  I measure my quality time spent with my wife and with my daughters (never enough).  I measure the conferences and speaking engagements I do, the writing time I have, the churches with whom I consult, and the budget dollars in my ministry.  I measure the attendance in The Gathering, and my teaching time there.  I measure my readership, my “hits”, my “click-throughs” and my subscriptions to this blog.  I am always assessing and reassessing and measuring the success and/or failure of all these endeavors.  I’ll bet you do as well.

The question is, in ministry, what does …

A Few Things I Wish Every Church Understood

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I found these comments at Len Hjalmarson’s blog, nextreformation.com.

The observations are insightful and should probably be required reading for every church leader. They’re short, simple, and easy to understand. But the ramifications of actually implementing them in your church would be enormous.

A couple of years back Mike Bishop asked some great questions:

“If you are reading this and have some vested interest in a community of faith – whatever your flavor, old-school or new-school, emerging or submerging – do yourself a favor and stop caring about the following things:

1. The number of people in your church. Really, it doesn’t matter.
2. The “relevancy” of your common worship.
3. How often or if ever a new person shows up at one of your common worship times.
4. The size of your church budget, building, or paid staff.
5. What any other church in the world is doing – good or bad or otherwise.

“And please start caring about the following things:

1. Actively looking for the evidence of God’s kingdom – where what he wants done is done – at work, at home, at Starbucks (heaven forbid), at the beach, and anywhere else you might find yourself in the course of living your normal life.
2. Simple, honest worship.
3. Having friends that don’t give a rip about your church. Maybe you might just rub off on them.
4. Giving away money to people who need it; using existing, familiar (and free) spaces for common worship such as homes, restaurants, parks, or community centers; flattening the organization’s need for paid leadership and support roles.
5. Go on a unique, unreproducible journey with a group of people and rejoice with