How do YOU choose a church? This tweet from Scotty Smith made me think yesterday.
I know what I look for in a church, though I’ve not looked for a long time since I’ve been at my church for over 13 years now. I look for the presence of God, healthy relationships and families, solid theology, and integrity and humility in the leaders (and vibrant worship helps too).
But, what do you look for?
I’m writing this hoping that you’ll go read this report by the Barna Group. If you’re a a Christian in American culture or, especially, if you’re a spiritual leader, I believe this report is very important to you. But, if you’re not into that sort of thing, just skip right over this post.
I’m an Analyst
In my day job as an analyst, data is very important to me. People can come to me all day long and tell me that they feel like they know what we should do. And, you know what? They might be right. But at the end of the day, we don’t set out to transform our business based solely on how things feel. We make decisions – sometimes multimillion-dollar decisions – based on careful research, insight, and planning.
This is my approach
So, this is often also my approach to living my faith. To living Christianity.
I found a great article on Swerve. It made me think a little bit about how we often understand “excellence” and “effectiveness” as a destination or product rather than a byproduct of how we’re doing what we do and how we measure ourselves by what we see around us.
For example, I have a friend who’s a drummer at another church. All of their worship leaders are not only worship leaders at the church but are also professional recording artists. When he auditioned (yes – auditioned) to be on their worship team, there were several other drummers who couldn’t keep up.
But here’s the deal – nearly anywhere besides Nashville, these other drummers would have been a shoe-in as a church drummer. Even at many other churches in Nashville. That’s a “relative baseline” that is very high.
What’s most important
I need the church – the community of saints, the body of Christ. I need to spend time with the church. I need to know and be known by the church. I need to identify with the church.
God, in his wisdom, has commanded that I do so but sometimes, in my thick-headedness, I forget that God wants only the best for me. Sometimes I, in my immaturity, need to see the “why” behind God’s command. To see why I need the church.
Here is why I need the church: Continue reading
I saw this yesterday on Cass Midgley’s Facebook profile. Cass’s friend Jim is a church planter whose perspective on church planting and spiritual development has changed over the years.
Cass has given me permission to reprint a portion of his article. Check it out below:
If Jim Were Planting A Church Today
Setting the Stage
I have planted two churches. One has developed into a very healthy attractional church, the other a cutting edge missional church. I worked much harder than I needed to and focused much of my energy attempting to achieve the wrong things. I would trade anyone anytime to be able to plant a church today in comparison with 30 years ago. Now I have other things to do but I want to help others who are interested in this work have more fun, achieve better (and more interesting) goals and survive the psycho- spiritual battlefield one encounters in this work.
30 things I would do differently
- Have a career in an unrelated field – like music, teaching, marketing or my own business
- Realize that if money were removed from ministry most pastors would quit.
- Accept some money from my spiritual community out of principle.
- Gather people around serving others instead of knowing more.
- Be happy with leading 5-10 people and knowing them personally.
- Serve my spiritual community by making connections for them in our local community.
- Introduce people to Jesus in the context of serving others.
If these intrigue you, stop by Cass Midgley’s Facebook profile to find the other 23 things Jim would do differently.
For a while I’ve been pondering the difficulties that we seem to have getting people involved in service activities at our church. Now, before I get too far down in this posting, I’d like to make these two provisos:
- I understand that the local body is not the only place people can serve
- I understand that it is possible to serve in the local body and still not be advancing the kingdom
Occasionally (or often), I read non-religious books and blog postings. As I was reading Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, I was reminded, again, of the 80/20 principle. I have been aware of the 80/20 principle for some time, which generally applies to a “society” or “community” of interrelated variables (people, products, etc). In the context of people, it would state that:
- 20% of the people have 80% of the wealth.
- 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
- 80% of the people do the remaining 20% of the work.
- 20% of the people create 80% of the problems.
That got me thinking. First, I wonder if we sometimes expect that each person in our “community” will give the same amount – the kind of “work leveling” that we would see in a job. Second, I see that, across the board, no matter how we break it down, 100% of the people do 100% of the work.
As I continued to meditate on these principles, I was reminded that Jesus said that whoever wants to be first must be last and the servant of all (Mark 9:35). In other words, if I want to follow Christ more closely, I must serve more people (do more of the work, etc) – which means I must, by definition, be more involved in my community.