#8: Ministry is not just how good your programs, strategies, or environments become. They are simply vehicles. Ministry is all about people being changed eternally by Jesus! In 2012 there are more ministry strategies, books, conferences and blogs about the new "ministry nugget" that will take your church to the "next level." For those of us in ministry we see all of the many ways churches function. We divide it up into traditional, modern, contemporary, and emergent churches (I'm sure there are more). I grew up in a somewhat traditional church and have served in this type of church. I have also worked in the contemporary model of the church. I am grateful for the new vision for the church with how it functions and reaches the lost. But this is what leads me to my next questions...
Does the style or environment of the church matter in eternity? We must realize that the style, programs, strategies are the avenue in which we share the truth of Jesus Christ. If the goal becomes one of these vehicles then the gospel can become of less importance.
Are we so relevant and comfortable in the church that we are trying to disciple lost church members? We are spending a lot of time in our churches today trying to revive the lost people who have not been saved by Jesus. This is why there is so much frustration with church leaders and a lack of passion by the people in the church.
Example: Is the church supposed to only be attractional? It is the "come and see" mentality. It is consumer driven. People come with a "buffet" mentality. What can I get from the different programs offered? In the 1960-1980's this style dominated the church world. This "attractional" or "consumer" model does not work anymore (and I think never has). The church is not the social center of today's culture like it was in the past. We must move into a missional mindset if we are going to reach this generation.
Example: Is the church supposed to send people to be missional? Yes! The word “church” stems from the Greek word ekklesia. It is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not a building, but of people. Jesus came for people. Jesus came to "seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). One of the goals of a church is for the people to become personal soul winners and grow in community (Proverbs 11:30)!
The vehicle is important (environment, strategy, programs). But if the vehicle becomes the crown of the church, we can miss the King.
If leaders become more focused upon the program and less focused upon sharing the gospel, what will the church look like in 10 years? As leaders, our goal should be to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus. People are looking for hope for their lives, their family and friends. Environments, programs and strategies help people walk in the door, but if that is the end goal then we are simply filling buildings with lost people. I haven't heard one baptism video testimony who talks about how amazing the programs were or how nice the environments were. A person who has been changed by Jesus, talks about Him!
In God's eyes, faithfulness is more important than performance. Let's not make the vehicle of ministry more important than the vision of the gospel changing lives for eternity.
What are your thoughts?