RETHINKING A CHURCH-
Three Keys to the Future from Dr. Hudson
As a church engages itself in the process of re-thinking church, there is an awareness of many ideas, obstacles and dead ends. It is not an easy task. It is akin to pausing at the edge of a vast wasteland with mountains in the distance. You know you want to be ‘there’, but it is not clear just how to get from ‘here’ to there.
There are always leaders and hopers who will be hard at work trying to deal with such realities. There will always be those who resist change. No matter what master plans from other churches are reviewed, there always seems to be three common elements. These three keys spell the successful future for a congregation if they have the courage.
Key One: Spiritual Direction
A church has to have a clear understanding of what their foundational ideology is or they will be like a lifeboat adrift on a turbulent sea of societal change. The Bible calls it being blown here and there by the contrary or competing wind of doctrine. No matter how we choose to act out that spiritual conviction, having it firmly enmeshed in our lives as the yardstick we measure success on is crucial. We have to believe in something, know what we believe and what it means to live out what we believe. There must be clear spiritual direction and vitality in a church if it is to grow and be in mission and service.
Key Two: Unity of Purpose
There has to be a group of people who stand united behind the identified purpose of the church. The Bible expresses repeatedly that unity of spirit, mind, and vision are part of the work of God among a people. The pronounced presence of disunity, fracture, and fragmentation is evidence that the ‘mind of Christ’ is not at work among His people. As children, we learned that we could express our views in a class election, but then we had to unite behind the decision made and act as a cohesive whole. I heard a children’s story one time about a small town trying to pick a giant turnip. One person tried and failed. Another person tried and failed. The solution came when EVERYONE got involved and pulled the giant turnip out of the ground. Sometimes it is true; everything we need to know we really did learn in Kindergarten. Unity of purpose is a must for a church to achieve its true purpose.
Key Three: Committed Achievement
Perhaps you have witnessed a group make a decision in a meeting, shake hands and then leave, and never return to the subject of the decision. A major key to success is a two-part step. There must be the act of decision-making but then there must be the intentional follow through to accomplish the goal contained within the decision.
Many churches across the country go into each New Year with unfulfilled goals of action plans never achieved through committed work. Those goals and plans are like the ponderous chains of Marley that Dickens wrote about and rattle in the background of every meeting and event. A church and its people must be committed to achieving what they plan.
These questions (among others) should guide us as we think about what we do, how we do it and why we do what we do. Do we see the spiritual signposts on our journey and follow their direction? Do we strive to find and keep unity of purpose in all we do as a church? Are we committed to not merely planning but achieving what we plan?
I pray that as you contemplate these ideas, that you ask God to guide and direct everyone as they work to find the future of your church.