Building People of Substance for Works of Power
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.1 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV
Back in the Seventies, I was seduced by a hamburger commercial from a chain that was new to our area. It looked so good! The meat was obviously juicy, the tomatoes were a luscious red, and the lettuce was so fresh you could almost hear the crunch. It was all topped with a rich, delicious looking sauce and then encased in the most beautiful bun, golden-fresh from the oven. When I tried one of those burgers, I was bitterly disappointed. It was greasy and lukewarm with droopy lettuce and pitiful, translucent-pink tomatoes. The bun looked as if someone had sat on it. Yuck! I am not a customer.
In our post-pandemic world, I think we might learn a few things from the greasy burger. If you will allow me to use some business language here, we need to first be sure our product is right: What are we supposed to be doing? Are we doing it? Our local churches are the backbone of the Gospel program in the earth. That’s God’s design. We can do things that a Facebook feed simply cannot do. What are those things? Are we doing them? Are we doing them well? Once we have satisfactory answers to those questions, then we can tell our community who we are, what we do, and why they should consider being part of our group.
Here’s my point. Don’t start with a Media campaign and a super-spiffy website. Don’t start the ad campaign until you know you can make a good burger. Our local churches are supposed to be doing several things that can be accomplished completely without technology. Here are a few things to remember as we recover from the pandemic and join in the revival that is happening in the earth.
- You don’t have to compete with Walmart Church. You can’t do what they do. You’re not supposed to. Walmart Church has resources and personnel that you don’t. But you have things that they don’t. Play to your strengths. God didn’t call you to draw a crowd, He called you to make and equip disciples.
- Focus on your call instead of comparing yourself with everybody else. Go back to the moment God spoke to you about the ministry. What did He say? If you haven’t written it down, do so immediately and accurately. Now, try to express it in terms of impact on people rather than as a number. If you get numbers-obsessed, you may not recognize the opportunities that are all around you but are disguised as problems.
- Get better at building your burger: We can do stuff that Walmart Church can’t. Focus on getting good at these things:
- Experiencing God’s Presence in corporate worship. You don’t need a band to do this, you need a heart to worship. The power is in the Presence, not the soundboard. Make sure your people know how to get there by taking them with you to the throne every week. This cannot be done online. Matthew 18:19; Psalm 133
- Connecting with the family in the faith. New Testament Christianity is centered in relationships. “Love one another” is meaningless in a vacuum. We need trusting, loving connections. Get together to break bread, do Kingdom work together, and share lives. Hebrews 10:24-25
- Making disciples and preparing people for service. Discipleship means discipline. It requires asking people for a commitment (Baptism), then teaching them to be doers of the Word. Those things take accountability. That can’t be done online. Neither can the kind of personal mentoring that prepares people for service. Information is not transformation. Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:14
- Providing an eldership that will watch for people’s souls. Hebrews 13:17 says “they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” We all need someone assigned by God to watch for us. I guarantee you that the Walmart Church guy online is not doing this. We need personal contact with leaders who:
- Lead lives that are an example of faith and faithfulness. Paul said to “know them which labour among you. (1 Thessalonians 5:12 KJV)” You can’t do that online.
- Provide prayer for healing and deliverance. The only method of ministering healing specifically addressed to Christians is: “Let him call for the elders of the church…” This cannot be obeyed remotely. (James 5:14-18)
- Bring exposure to the manifestation of the Spirit. The gifts flow when we come together. Leaders demonstrate and teach how to discern the true from the false in real time. 1 Corinthians 14:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
- Cast the vision for the community, local and connected. God has a plan for you. He has assigned each of us as part of a local body for the purpose of impacting our world.
Here’s the Point: We’re not in competition with other churches. We are measured by the standard of what God has given us to do. Our job is to define our product, begin to produce it with excellence and continual improvement, then find creative and effective ways to engage with our clientele. Let’s build a better burger. I think we may be surprised at how many hungry people there are.
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Tucson, AZ 85741
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