As a pastor attempting to do the work of the ministry in the world today, there are a lot of things that concern me. Some of these concerns are stronger than others. Some keep me awake at night. Some force me to my knees in prayer. Some concerns that I at one time thought were major, over time I have come to learn, aren’t. While other concerns that I didn’t think were major, now are much more so.
At different times I will have people ask me about what some of my concerns are as a Pastor – which is a question that I love when people ask, because it tells me that most likely the one asking it cares enough about the church that they have some concerns of their own. So, let me just take a moment and give you my top three concerns:
1. Getting people focused on the mission of the church.
Christ has given the church the mission of making disciples, which includes both reaching those who are far from God and growing up those who are in Christ. It is easier than you can imagine for a church to become distracted from this mission, and most of the time the distractions can be really good things like programs and activities put on by the church. But God hasn’t called the church to run programs or activities; instead He has called us to make disciples. Therefore, I am more concerned about getting people focused on the mission of making disciples, rather than on the programs of a church.
2. Getting people united around the entire mission of the church.
Now, while both aspects of reaching those who are far from God and growing up those who are in Christ are a part of the mission of the church, most churches have a tendency to gravitate more toward one end of the spectrum than the other. And the older a church becomes, the people within that church have a greater tendency of gravitating toward the growing up part of the mission. This can create a very inward focus within the church, as well as a church that is much more focused on truth than on grace. Therefore, I am very much concerned about getting people united around the entire mission of the church and not just one aspect of it. When a church becomes united around the entire mission, then more and more people within the church will involve themselves as both an evangelizer and a disciple.
3. Seeing the entire mission taking place within the church.
If we are church that is focused on the mission of the church, then it should concern us when we are not seeing that mission being accomplished in our midst. It should concern all of us, and not just me, when we aren’t seeing those who are far from God attending a church service, because it means that we aren’t seeking to carry out the mission of the church in our own lives. It should concern all of us when we don’t hear testimonies of people repenting of their sin and giving their life to Christ as a result of our ministry. It should concern all of us when we don’t see a consistent number of people being baptized in our baptismal tank. It should concern all of us when we don’t see evidence of an ever-increasing amount of fruit in a Christ-follower’s life. It should concern us all to be a church that is not carrying out the mission given to us by Christ–because one day we will have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for why we weren’t focused on, unified around, and carrying out the mission of the church.
Again, these are certainly not the only things that concern me within the church, but they rank right up there as my top concerns that do keep me up at night at times, that drop me to my knees in prayer, and that can even bring me to tears. It is in light of these concerns that I am presently teaching a class based off of the book “Who Stole My Church” by Gordon MacDonald. Each week we are working hard at addressing these concerns through interaction, teaching from the Word of God, and some homework assignments. It is my goal to have all the sessions recorded. However, for those of you who are taking the class now, let me remind you of your homework assignment for this week.
Think about and right down your thoughts on a few different statements.
1. For some churches, the pain of change is greater than the pain of ineffectiveness.
2. We resist change in the church because it seems like the only safe place left in this world.
3. Sometimes it is much easier to dismiss the messenger, than to face the fact that the way we’re doing things is not working anymore.
4. When the rate of change inside an organization is slower than the rate of change outside an organization, the end of that organization is in sight.