Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From Golf Team To Football Team...

Yesterday's post contained an excerpt from an interesting book I've been reading-- Church Unique by Will Mancini. This selection from Church Unique completes the thought I posted yesterday:

What the church really needs is a strategy that helps them function more like a football team than a golf team. A football team shares one score based on the coordination of highly diverse functions—there may be forty-six individuals with forty-six performance indicators, but there are not forty-six different goals. The singular goal is to get the ball into the end zone.

A strategic plan can easily divide a team by giving each player a different goalpost.

How exactly does this happen? Here is why a strategic plan with multiple goals inhibits synergy:

* Too many goals threaten to make any one goal unclear.
Would we rather have 46 goals that no one remembers or one goal that forms the ever-present gauge on you “dashboard of ministry?”

* Too many goals weaken the connection between the goals and the larger vision.
Do we want workers who are excited about the big picture as they go about their daily ‘bite-sized” tasks? Imagine your volunteers as brick makers. Do you want every brick maker focused on “bricks-per-hour efficiency,” brick yield loss, brick compression strength, mortar viscosity, etc., at the risk of not envisioning the beautiful cathedral they are building?

* Too many goals make it harder for people to have shared goals. How can our leaders all point in the same direction on cue, as we navigate ministry together (like the choreography of a school of fish darting through the water)? How do our goals inadvertently create competition for the same limited resources?

* Too many goals inhibit good decision-making on the front line of ministry.
Do we have a lot of goals because we are trying to compensate for a lack of trust and communication? Are we releasing competent people on the front line of ministry, or are we dictating decisions from the leaders' conference room?

Time and time again, I see more goals equaling more confusion. Well-intentioned church leaders think they are building a ladder to greater achievement. What they really are building is a chute that flushes synergy down the drain.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Silo Builder...

I've been reading Church Unique by Will Mancini. I've found it to be one of those books that substantially stretches my thinking. Here's an excerpt from Church Unique that I heavily highlighted:

Church leaders know what organizational silos look like. What defines success for staff members? The answer is, “Butts in seats in my ministry area!” Many churches use nickels and noses as the
only measure for success. This primary measure of worship service attendance gets translated down into the ministry departments. The result is a golf team mentality where team success is measured by adding up individual scores at the end of the day. Quiet competition simmers underneath the calm surface of most staff meetings with individual ministries trying to “out-drive” the others.

When a strategic planning process is introduced into an environment where real teamwork is already challenged, the plan itself becomes a silo builder that reinforces the concrete walls between ministry areas. This is the second fallacy of strategic planning: the “Fallacy of Accountability.” As multiple goals are developed for each separate ministry area, the expectation is that staff and volunteers will experience better coordination, with clearer responsibilities. The false assumption behind this practice is that more goals will help people work better together. Exactly the opposite is true. More goals typically create a more fragmented approach as each leader focuses solely on their responsibilities and outcomes. In an effort to provide positive steps of
accountability within ministry areas, the church misses out on synergy between all ministry areas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leaping Lizard...

The local news anchor in this clip has a melt-down as a result of his encounter with a leaping lizard. Warning: I watched this while drinking a Diet Coke with vanilla from Sonic and almost spewed through the nose.

Too funny!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sitcom Map...

Some industrious person with lots of time on their hands went to the trouble of mapping the fictional location of most of America's sitcoms. See if your favorite sitcom made it to the map.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't Force Spring...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Every planet on the solar system has seasons. On Venus, seasons are very short. On Uranus, a season can last for 20 years.

You might feel like you are in a prolonged winter. And you might be correct.

- You are praying with few answered prayers.
- You’re reaching out to someone for Jesus, but they show no interest.
- You’re working as hard as you can and seeing minimal results.

If you’re in winter and waiting for spring, remember God also works in the winter. During the cold months, the roots of trees and plants grow deeper and stronger. In this season, God is often doing an unseen work preparing His creation for spring.  During winter, God does more internally than externally.

It is helpful to remember: "You can’t have spring without winter."

How has God worked during the winter seasons in your life?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love vs. Lust...

The Granger Community Church came up with the following video to help answer the question,"Is there a difference between love and lust?"

I appreciate the very effective way in which Granger uses media to connect God's eternal truths to our culture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are You A Good Christ...

This recent post by Francis Chan knocked my socks off.

I think it's time we stop asking ourselves the question: "Am I a good Christian?" We live in a time when the term "Christian" has been so diluted that millions of immoral but nice people genuinely consider themselves "good Christians." We have reduced the idea of a good Christian to someone who believes in Jesus, loves his or her family, and attends church regularly. Others will label you a good Christian even though your life has no semblance to the way Christ spent His days on earth. Perhaps we should start asking the question: "Am I a good
Christ?" In other words, do I look anything like Jesus? This question never even entered my mind until a friend of mine made a passing comment to me one day.

Dan is a long time friend of mine. In fact, he's the pastor who performed my wedding. He was talking to me about a pastor named Von. Von has been working with youth in the San Diego area for decades. Many of his students have gone on to become amazing missionaries and powerful servants of God. Dan described a trip to Tijuana, Mexico with Pastor Von. (Von has been ministering to the poor in the dumps of Tijuana for years). Dan didn't speak of the awful living conditions of those who made their homes amidst the rubbish. What impacted Dan the most was the relationship he saw between Von and the people of this community. He spoke of the compassion, sacrifice, and love that he witnessed in Von's words and actions as he held these malnourished and un-bathed children. Then he made the statement that sent me reeling:

"The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus."

Dan explained that the whole experience was so eerie because he kept thinking to himself: "If Jesus were still walking on earth in the flesh, this is what it would feel like to walk alongside of Him!" After that discussion, I kept wondering if anyone had ever said that about me-"The day I spent with Francis was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus." The answer was an obvious "no." Would any honest person say that about you?

What bothered me was not that I hadn't "arrived," but that I wasn't even heading in the right direction. I hadn't made it my goal to resemble Christ. I wasn't striving to become the kind of person who could be mistaken for Jesus Christ. Isn't it ironic that a man can be known as a successful pastor, speaker, and CHRISTian even if his life doesn't resemble Christ's?

1 John 2:6 "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

When John made that statement, he wasn't speaking about how to be a church leader or even how to be a "good" Christian. He merely stated that anyone who calls himself Christian must live like Jesus did. So how did Jesus live? You could make a list of character traits to compare yourself to, but it would be far more beneficial to simply read through one of the Gospels. After you get a bird's-eye view of the life of Christ, do the same with your own. Are you comfortable with the similarities and differences?

It's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of "success" as American church-goers define it. The thought of being well-known and respected is alluring. There have been times when I've been caught up in the fun of popularity. I've even mistaken it for success. Biblically, however, success is when our lives parallel Christ's. Truth is, there are many good Christs that you'll never read about in a magazine. They are walking as Jesus walked, but they are too focused and humble to pursue their own recognition.

May we make it our goal to someday have someone say of us: "The day/hour/15 minutes I spent with ______ was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus."

As Christians in America, we often complain about how antagonistic people are toward Christ. Personally, I'm not sure that Americans are really rejecting Christ. Maybe they just haven't seen Him.

Try to be COMPLETELY honest with yourself right now. Is the following true of you?

You passionately love Jesus, but you don't really want to be like Him. You admire His humility, but you don't want to be THAT humble. You think it's beautiful that He washed the feet of the disciples, but that's not exactly the direction your life is headed. You're thankful He was spit upon and abused, but you would never let that happen to you. You praise Him for loving you enough to suffer during His whole time on earth, but you're going to do everything within your power to make sure you enjoy your time down here.

In short: You think He's a great Savior, but not a great role model.

The American church has abandoned the most simple and obvious truth of what it means to follow Jesus: You actually follow His pattern of life. I pray for those who read this post- that we don't become cynical or negative toward the church. Instead, let's make a personal decision to stop talking so much and begin living like Jesus. Then we can say as the apostle Paul, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). My guess is that you've never had someone say that to you, and you've never said it to anyone else. Why not?

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Songs & Singing..

Not long ago, I was with a group of university students enjoying a time of praise in song and prayer. Near the end of what a been a very uplifting time of worship, the question was asked, "Does anyone have a song they'd like to start?"

And someone did. This person started a song that I recalled singing as a youth minister with my youth group in the early 1990's. This was very popular praise song in the 90's, its words rooted in Scripture... one of those songs our youth group always liked to sing.

But in the year of our Lord 2009, this song sounded really dated. Most of the university students I was sitting with either didn't know the song, or were trying to recall the tune. Suffice it to say that after one verse and the chorus, the group respectfully segued to another song.

And that brief experience got me thinking... all songs were new at some point, and a lot of people liked to sing them, and the words spoke to various hearts in various ways. But even songs that aren't all that old (I don't consider the early '90s "a long time ago") lose their meaningfulness, appeal and the desire that they be sung.

I don't take this to mean that these were "bad" songs. I'm thinking what's taking place is a very normal thing... songs that speak to our hearts at certain times in our lives, don't at other times. And I believe a big part of letting the "word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" is about singing psalms/hymns/songs that are meaningful to us... at that time.

So, the next time I'm about to fire off a verbal broadside like "Old/new songs just don't touch my heart" or "New/old songs are the best"--I want to remember that the age of a song is incidental to its power and ability in taking us before the Throne of our Father.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Herding Cats...

This video is clever, and quite funny. There's a whole lot going on in this short clip... so watch carefully.

I have great admiration for cat herders.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How To Really Celebrate...

This clip gets to the essence of what it means to celebrate... and I'm talking over-the-top celebration. As challenging as it may be, watch the entire clip--paying special attention during the final 10 seconds.

Okay, the guy's obnoxious... but did you notice the score?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Porn Okay, Except On Sunday...

The research that Tim Avery describes in his article below draws no hard conclusions, but the study does sound another wake-up call to Christians regarding sexual purity and living "compartmentalized" lives.

Do Christians buy less online pornography than non-believers? The Associated Baptist Press reports on a recent study suggesting "no"—except, that is, on Sundays.

Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman took the zip codes of subscribers to a top-ten porn seller and analyzed the geographical distribution. He says that subscription rates in regions where more people report regularly attending religious services aren't "statistically significantly different" from subscriptions elsewhere.

In fact, subscriptions are actually more prevalent in states that have passed conservative legislation on sexuality, as well as in states where more survey respondents agreed with statements like "I never doubt the existence of God" and "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage."

An interesting (or depressing) wrinkle is that, in regions of higher church attendance, a smaller proportion of porn subscriptions begin on Sundays. "This analysis suggests that, on the whole, those who attend religious services shift their consumption of adult entertainment to other days of the week, despite on average consuming the same amount of adult entertainment as others," says Edelman.

So what to make of this study? For one thing, the criteria of "attending religious services" is not restricted to Christian places of worship. Still, those must be the overwhelming majority.

It's safe to say, then, that the church has a long way to go in terms of sexual purity. As the study shows, a lot of that has to do with how people compartmentalize their lives, living one way on Sunday and another the rest of the week. And it's easier than ever these days to go where you shouldn't. T
hanks to the Internet, now "every city is Sin City."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We Still Don't Get What Love Means...

The following post by Jamie Tworkowski smacked me squarely in the face.

I've been listening to Ray Lamontagne for the last couple years. Ray is a brilliant songwriter who delivers stories in something like a deep smooth whisper. He has that golden voice, but I think it's his honesty that I connect with even more. His songs seem to be born from questions and pain, and if I myself am honest in saying more, I think I connect with this because I am a person who thinks a lot about pain. I wrestle with the broken stuff in my own life and in the lives of the people around me. I have a lot of questions.

It is for all of the reasons above that some friends and I drove 500 miles from Florida to Atlanta to see Ray Lamontagne play on a Saturday night a couple months back. We parked and made our way excited to the door, and as we took our place in line, I heard it:

"You're going to hell."

The man's voice was loud and not kind and he added his thoughts on fornication and homosexuality, angry answers to questions that no one was asking. In the first moment I was shocked, and I then I was sad, and then I was walking towards him.

"Do you think this is working?" I asked.

I figured he would be excited that someone actually wanted to talk to him, and he certainly seemed prepared for an argument. Instead, the yelling guy told me that I would need to talk to a different person, pointing toward the younger man to his left. (The yelling guy needed to keep yelling.) Now, this whole thing surprised me because I had no idea that these people had assistants. I guess the kid was learning the ropes, hoping to be prepared to yell on his own within the next year or two...

I told the kid that they needed to stop, that they were only doing damage, offending everyone. I told him that people respond to love, and that I could hear no love in their shouted judgments. His response made me more frustrated, and after a brief back-and-forth, I rejoined my friends in line and entered the show.

It took a while to calm down and let it go. In theory, the yelling guy and I believe some of the same things. "We're on the same team," you might say. But I believe in a God who doesn't scream at people the first time He meets them. Evangelism aside, screaming at strangers seems a horrible marketing plan to me. I believe in a God who places a great emphasis on love, a God who loves people and asks His followers to do the same.

After the show, I thought about yelling guy because he is also the reputation of "the church." We are known to the world as something like this guy. We tell people how to vote and think and live. We shout our judgments. We are quick with our answers and slow to confess our questions, maybe slower even still to meet other people in theirs. A shouted "You're going to hell" is an awful introduction to a God who desires to love and know His children.

And it's interesting that all of this happened on a Saturday night, because Saturday nights set up Sunday mornings. Some people stay out late, hunting for meaning and answers in songs and bars and a thousand other places, because they're certain that our Sunday mornings would only be more like shouting strangers. But what if we were known as a people in true pursuit of love, a people committed to representing it well? What if we were known for constantly showing up to wrestle the needs and questions around us, and what if we took it so far as to be honest about our own?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One Quadrillion Synapses...

I thought this recent post by Mark Batterson was intriguing:

I came across an interesting
factoid today. The human body has approximately 100,000,000 (one hundred million) sensory receptors that enable us to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. And that is a testament to our Divine Designer. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. By the way, when was the last time you thanked God for each of your senses? We have seven million cones that enable us to perceive about ten million different colors. Doesn't it seem like we owe God seven million thank yous?

Now here is what I found fascinating: neurologists estimate that the average three-year old has 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) synaptic connections.

Honestly, those numbers numb us. But I think they reveal something significant. Our ability to imagine things in our mind is far greater than our ability to interpret physical reality. Mathematically speaking, imagination is ten million times more powerful than our five senses put together!

Naturalism is living down to the limit of our one hundred million sensory receptions. It is the inability or unwillingness to perceive reality that is beyond our five senses. The end result? Our universes shrinks to the size of our senses.

Faith is living beyond our five senses. It is being certain of what we do not see. One dimension of faith is imagining what our five senses can't perceive or confirm. It is extra-sensory perception. And that is why faith often seems like it is out of touch with reality. But that is because it is ten million times more powerful than our senses!

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20: Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and throughout all generations for ever and ever, Amen.

Translation? God is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine with our one quadrillion synapses. Amazing isn't it? Our imagination is ten million times more powerful than our five senses. But God is still able to do infinitely more than anything any of us can imagine with our one quadrillion synaptic connections. And to top it off, no mind has conceived of what God has prepared for us

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shucking Oysters...

This picture was taken during my time in New Orleans this past week. I'm sitting with ACU student and good friend, Shannon Williamson, instructing her in the fine art of oyster shucking. You'll notice in the picture the essentials for shucking oysters: glove, oyster knife and red sauce (for use in quickly transferring oysters from shell to mouth).

Kirk and Jenny Garrison were our gracious hosts for this delightful evening of dining... and Jenny took this picture.

Friday, March 13, 2009


This video makes me laugh.

This video makes me think.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Frying Fish...

I spent last night alongside a 75 year-old African-American man frying fish in big kettles. More on that in a moment.

With both ends of a small street blocked by patrol cars from the New Orleans police department, the ACU Spring Break Campaign team I'm part of helped host a "community block party." The Hollygrove church, recently planted by the Carrollton Avenue church, was the official host of the block party.

Free fried fish, a moon jump for children, and gospel singing led by SoHills own George Pendergrass were the ingredients of the block party... along with a big contingent of the Carrollton Avenue church and our Spring Break team. From 6-8 p.m. in 90% humidity the block was rocking. People were flowing down the streets from nearby houses to the party to be greeted, given a plate, and a heaping helping of fried fish, mashed potatoes, lemonade and the gift of a special welcome that I believe is unique to God's people. It was very cool stuff.

The diversity of the crowd was refreshing. The friendliness of those who mingled was inspiring. I people who hugged me around the neck for being one of the fish fryers. Is that cool or what?

And the fish frying... I never knew it was so fine an art form. My 75 year-old "frying tutor" was patient with me, since initially I was apparently doing everything wrong. I was stirring the fish too frequently, I was not allowing them to cook long enough, I was squeezing too much of the grease out of them (okay, I made that one up)... but after an hour of straddling a pot of boiling vegetable oil, he finally acknowledged that I "seemed to be getting the hang of it." (Yes! Another line of work to fall back on if I ever leave full-time ministry!)

The "community block party" was great... and it's something I'd like to encourage all churches to consider doing. After all, offering fish to large crowds is something Jesus did during his earthly ministry (so there's clear precedent for this kind of thing). It's a great way to meet people who drive by your church building every day but who wouldn't be comfortable stopping in on a Sunday.

And if you need a fish fryer, I'm available and experienced.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kingdom Question...

I had one of the ACU students who's on our New Orleans Spring Break Campaign team ask me a question last night. This student wanted to know if I believed in a "Big Kingdom of God, or a little Kingdom." When I asked for a bit of clarification, the student replied, "Well, when people who say they believe in God disappoint me... I'm not sure I think they're in the Kingdom. So, God's Kingdom keeps getting smaller for me."

I'm always appreciative when people are straightforward in sharing their thoughts... and I affirmed this student for their willingness to pose such an honest question.

My reply to this student: "I believe in a big Kingdom of God... because I'm one of the most imperfect, sinful people I know. And I'm counting on, through the grace of God, a place for me at God's Kingdom table.

I'm a fan of Kingdom of God conversations.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't Be...

I had lunch with Larry M. at a local restaurant last Thursday. Our server was Seth, who I found out later was an ACU student.

Seth was friendly, prompt in taking our order and attentive without being intrusive. Like most of the young men and women I encounter each week behind food counters or table-side, Seth put the "serve" in server.

Our lunch finished and the bill paid, Larry and I were preparing to leave the restaurant when Seth reappeared at our table. Seth said that he was an ACU student, and further mentioned that he had visited SoHills on several occasions. He indicated he'd seen me during his visits to SoHills.

Then he said, "I just appreciate the kindness and courtesy the two of you have shown me... it's been a pleasure to serve you. It's not often that people I recognize from the churches in town treat me the way you have." And Seth smiled and walked away.

I don't share this story as a pat-on-the-back for Larry and me. No, I'm hearing Seth's comments as a wake-up call to each of us who call ourselves Christian servants... but who treat with disregard or disrespect the "servers" we come in contact with every day at the grocery store, the lunch counter, the mall, or gas station.

Those in our communities who know us as "church people" and who observe a disconnect between what we sing and profess inside of our church buildings and how we treat them... they have a word to describe us: hypocrite.

Don't be.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Email Starts Fights...

Only 7% of what we say is conveyed through words... tone and visual cues make up the other 93%.

I thought this was an informative clip... and Ed seems to know what he's talking about, even though he probably won't win any spelling bees (attidude). But trust me, I wouldn't email that comment to Ed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Everything Is Amazing, But Nobody's Happy...

If you haven’t seen this video yet, take four minutes to watch it... and then ask yourself: “Am I the person he is describing?”

I'm trying to put my finger on what it is about this clip that makes me laugh, but at the same time convicts me that I'm the person who can be impatient with today's amazing technologies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Give Me Love & Five Bucks...

This is an actual note left for the tooth fairy by a little boy named Eli. You've got to love the sweet, capitalistic spirit of a child.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On Confessing "Safe Sins"...

The following post was written by Jon Acuff for his blog "Stuff Christians Like." Jon writes with transparency, humor and grace... and his words almost always challenge me.

Have you ever been in a small group with people that confess safe sins? Someone will say, “I need to be honest with everyone tonight. I need to have full disclosure and submit myself in honesty. So you brace yourself for this crazy moment of authenticity and the person takes a deep breath and says… “I haven’t been reading my Bible enough.”

Ugh, you, dirty, dirty sinner. I’m not even sure I can be in a small group with you any more. Not reading your Bible enough, that is disgusting. And then once he’s gone someone else will catch the safe sin bug too and will say, “I need to be real too. I haven’t been praying enough.”

Two of you in the same room? Wow, freak shows! I can barely stand it.

But what happens when people start confessing safe sins is that everyone else in the room starts concealing their real junk. I mean if I was surrounded by confessions like that in the eighth grade I would have instantly known I couldn’t follow the “not reading my Bible enough” guy with my own story:

“Soooo, this weekend when it was snowing I told my parents I was going to the dump to sled but instead I was really just digging through a 200 foot mountain of warm trash looking for pornography.” And the same principle would have applied to me in my late 20s. I wouldn’t have been honest sharing my struggles with Internet porn if everyone else confessed their “safe enough for small group” sins.

And that sucks. It sucks that as broken as we all are, as desperate as we all are for a Savior, we feel compelled to clean ourselves up when we get around each other.

But this blog has taught me something unbelievable. If I stop writing tomorrow, this will be the lesson I cling to the most.

When you go first, you give everyone in your church or your community or your small group or your blog, the gift of going second.

It’s so much harder to be first. No one knows what’s off limits yet and you’re setting the boundaries with your words. You’re throwing yourself on the honesty grenade and taking whatever fall out that comes with it. Going second is so much easier. And the ease only grows exponentially as people continue to share. But it has to be started somewhere. Someone has to go first and I think it has to be us.

We’re called to give the gift of second to the people in our lives. To live the truth, to share the truth, to be the truth.

Let’s give the gift of going second.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Headed to New Orleans...

Early Saturday morning, I'll climb into a SoHills' van and head toward New Orleans with a group of ACU students. These students will be giving their Spring Break over to ministry alongside the Carrollton Avenue church in New Orleans, and Carrollton Avenue's recent church plant in the Hollygrove community of the city.

On Wednesday night of next week, we'll be throwing a gospel music party in the street in front of the Hollygrove church building. The city of New Orleans has given us permission to close the street for the party. Music always draws a crowd in the Big Easy, and we've got George Pendergrass coming into town to lead the singing. Several pots of fish will also be frying on the back porch of the Hollygrove building, so nobody will go away hungry.

I've got a feeling that God is going to do some amazing things in New Orleans next week. I'm just looking forward to being there!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Stool...

Watch this clip and see if you don't agree that it does a great job of presenting the challenge we all face in coming to terms with self and Lordship.

A powerful lesson taught in under two minutes...

Monday, March 2, 2009


The following is from a recent post by Tony Morgan on his blog... so these words aren't mine. I'm intrigued and challenged by what Tony has written.

Let me preface this by saying I’m not sure what I think about what I’m about ready to share. I’m still processing. I’m still waiting to hear more from God on this. I haven’t landed.

As best as I can tell as I study churches across the country, here’s how the typical contemporary church asks people to invest their time today.

-Participate in Sunday worship gatherings.

-Read their Bible.

-Become a member of a local church.

-Attend classes to learn more about the Bible and their spiritual walk.

-Participate in a small group with other believers.

-Serve in a ministry.

-Participate in events and programs that connect believers with others in a similar life stage. (i.e. men, women, married couples, moms, singles, college students, etc.)

-Participate in missions efforts either locally or globally.

-Invest in people’s lives and invite them to church.

I think that’s a fairly comprehensive list, but you could probably modify that for your specific church and add or delete from the list.

Now, as a result of all this, we see that about 20 to 25% of people end up doing most of the serving at a church. Contemporary churches struggle to get more than 30% of their people engaged in small groups. A very small percentage of people are in the Bible daily. People end up spending a lot of time at the church rather than connecting with people outside the church. We reinforce a consumption mentality that says if you’re going to grow in your faith that the church needs to spoon feed you. People become reliant on the church rather than Jesus for their spiritual maturity.

This is going to sound a little sacrilegious, but I’m wondering what would happen if we eliminated some ministries of the contemporary church. What would happen, as an example, if we only asked people to invest their time in this way:

-Participate in corporate worship and Bible teaching.

-Read your Bible.


-Serve others.

-Make disciples.

Kind of scary isn't it? There’s a lot of stuff that we do as churches that’s not on that list. Most of what’s not on that list are the gatherings and activities that bring believers together to learn more. No small groups. No classes. No singles ministry or women’s ministry events. No structured missions programs.

I’m wondering what would happen if rather than focusing so much on transferring knowledge, we focused on helping people love God, love others and make new disciples. What would happen if we asked people to spend less time at the church and more time in the lives of people who need Jesus? What would happen if we offered fewer gatherings to transfer knowledge and more tools to help people study the Bible on their own? What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?

Maybe groups and classes and ministry programs aren't the discipleship strategy. Maybe encouraging personal disciplines and serving and making disciples is the discipleship strategy.

Like I said, I’m not sure where I’m going to land on this. I just think some aspects of the contemporary church that we've accepted as requirements for “good ministry” are creating barriers to spiritual growth and to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.