As a leader in the church, there is nothing more vital than to take responsibility for the structures within your church. This, however, takes great courage. I think all of us have had those moments when we say, “Somebody should really do something about that!”, only to realize we are the ones in charge. The greatest thing to remember is that with great responsibility comes great grace. As a lead pastor, God won’t do your job and you can’t do His, but He will give you the power to do the work. This does, however, require the humility to ask some hard questions and really evaluate the health of our churches in this area.
What’s going on here?
What do you see in the above picture? It’s evident that these two characters are committed and aren’t going to quit easily. They are willing to push through adversity. These are great characteristics! However, how long can they keep going like this? It’s very evident that the necessary resources to bring change are already easily available. They are just not being used. Imagine that this cart is your church. What are your square wheels? They could be mindsets, attitudes, traditions that do not bear fruit. They could even be people in the wrong places or jobs. This is where leadership gets real. Like I had stated above, there is a great responsibility upon us as leaders to make hard decisions and cast the vision for the people we lead to get on board.
Let’s expound on three questions that will help make the next steps clear.
1) ” Am I taking responsibility?”
We serve a covenant, God. So many of Gods promises we see in scripture are not automatic but are conditional. The principle of “if” and “then” applies. God says,”If you do _________ then I will do ________” We cannot expect God to show Himself strong if we are not trusting in Him as we ought. You can’t do Gods job and He won’t do yours. However, when you do what you can do He does what you cannot do. If God has set you as a senior pastor He has given you the grace necessary to do the work. What is vital is for us as leaders to have a sense of ownership as stewards of His people church. We cannot pass this responsibility off to future generations. We must build a platform for the future generations to stand on.
2)”Do the structures in the church meet the purpose they were designed for?
This is the Choluteca Bridge, located in Honduras. It was built by the Japanese government as a gift to the nation. When the Class 5 Hurricane Mitch came through Honduras in 1998 it wiped out a very large percentage of the bridges within the nation. Unfortunately, there was a significant loss of life due to this storm. One of the incredible things that took place, due to this storm, was the complete change of the path of the Choluteca River. This change, as you can see, was so intense that, due to the 75 inches of rain that fell over four days, the River no longer flowed under the bridge. The bridge quickly became known as the “bridge to nowhere”. This is a great example of what can easily happen within our churches. At first, we implement a structure, it serves it purpose and it can even be fruitful, but we aren’t in step with the life expectancy of it. It quickly becomes the ministry to nowhere. Now to be clear, I am not referring to doctrines. We don’t change our doctrine to compete with culture. However, we must always be evaluating the methodology we are using. E.M Bounds said it best,” before we remove a fence we must ask why it was put there in the first place.” Once that has been done we can either move forward with confidence or remain with confidence. We are called to not only be faithful but fruitful as well. You can’t be fruitful without being faithful but you can be faithful and not fruitful.
3)”Do the structures then meet their purposes equally within the 3 color areas?”
When we consider “Effective Structures” in light of the trinitarian compass we see that the structures we build must:
Reach Out (GREEN) -We need to be encouraging the people we lead and making the path clear of how to engage the world around them for the sake of the Gospel. The church is not a building, it’s breathing. Where followers of Christ are so is the church.
Reach In (BLUE)– The structures we build must also encourage the bonding together of the saints lives. Fellowship between us as Christians is like the mortar between bricks in a wall. It is what’s makes us strong. Far too many churches are just piles of bricks. Disjointed and easily toppled over.
Reach Up (RED)– It is vital that our people are not just givers of the goodness of God but also partakers. Its so easy to become, what John Maxwell refers to as, the starving baker. So busy baking bread for everyone else that we are not eating ourselves. This should not be so. We need to teach and demonstrate how to experience and express what a genuine relationship with God looks like, The presence of God is like the air we breath. It doesn’t take long without it before your dead. Some people get used to holding their spiritual breath, seeing how long we can hold on before taking another. That is not what Jesus paid for and it’s not what we should settle for. Like the song says,”this is the air I breathe, Your holy presence, living in me”