Some questions and suggestions for Christians, pastors, leaders - as we try to move forward in ministry . . .
What are we all about as a community of faith ?
Where do we put our energies as a church? (money, manpower, management, mission, maintenance)
Where does our church express her care for our community?
What does our community (network) think about our church?
What other kinds of places would people consider their church in your community?
How can we make our churches safe havens for people who never come to church? (they need a safe person to be with; stop trying to manoeuvre the conversation around to ‘spiritual talk'; most people feel judged in church)
Are our church’s people nervous or hopeful when old ways give way to new ways?
Christianity deserves to be expressed in the idioms and culture of the host culture. Aall theology is the interplay between church, culture and Scripture. Reformed theology, for example (at least in the way it was thought through and expressed) was great for its era. Is it time for new theology and belief systems? (not for change of belief)
We have the opportunity of re-writing what Christianity should look like for our era.
Christianity adopts to the culture wherever it goes. Other religions still looks like, dress like, act like, think like the founding people and culture where it came from . . . (for example Islam)
What kind of influence do young people in your church have in setting church culture?
Must we always plan things – or can we allow for the unexpected? (people before paper, plans and programs; put pen down; turn around from the computer)
How do we sense the Spirit of God in our midst? – or doesn’t it matter? . . .
Some Suggestions for Church Development
KISS - Keep it simple
Eliminate some (most?) committees – establish the right ones (stress collaborative 'teams') (too often it’s all about personal turf)
Pray more – especially as leaders (pray, not as a tack-on, an embarrassment, a necessity)
Deeper transparency with each other. (trust others; let them trust you; be trust-worthy - this can be terrifying, risky - for once they know you, they can use stuff against you)
No more games - power games, control issues or turf wars. (let gracious truth and gentleness pervade every office; be who God’s designed you to be & don’t pretend to be somebody else)
Learn to love oppositional people - they may be hurt, divorced, their life will be shattered (learn to love them. Some day you may need to confront them - or comfort them; don’t let their actions dictate yours)
Encourage leaders to spend time with ever generation in the church (learn how they see things; otherwise, you will only construct programs for the generation you listen to; ask - what would worship look like in the language of your culture?)
Think inside and outside your box (find what works and what doesn’t work; ask - what could make us less comfortable but would actually propel us forward a bit ?)
Build relationship- building events (food is always a good start)\
Financially support community events (people think the church is always looking for money; turn it around; surprise them; overwhelm them with love and practical care responses)
We must also realign our ways to be ready for the challenge. For example, we need to express faith through life experiences, not through linear/sequential arguments; talk less - people want to tell their life-stories; don’t 'witness' to people, listen to them; respond, love, talk, answer questions, offer insights only if or when they ask; speak one language - don’t use ‘Christianeze’ - avoid red-flag words; don’t use content-less words.
Reconnect to the God Who made you through a repenting, trusting, rich relationship with Jesus Christ. Get over your guilt; find the forgiveness you seek in Christ and then believe you are forgiven, for everything confessed now in the past: forgiven completely; and for all you’re ever going to do that displeases the Father.
Consider: if there were no heaven or hell; threat or punishment or promise of reward – would you be a Christian? Had there been no Fall, and you were totally and freely human - what would you be doing ? . . .
Let go of your sin - Christ has paid for it; it’s all gone – you’re free.
Learn to fall in love. (do you love people? do you fall in love with them? are you romanced and romancing, richer and deeper?)
Consider: how do you receive love? (many in ministry don’t receive it very well. If you can't receive love, you won’t know how to give it) (We’re used to being judged and that’s what we tend to pass on - our criticism, our fear . . .)
Lose the intensity (You don’t need to win; let up with the eye contact - it can be intimidating and awkward)
Don’t feel you have to do everything - leave God some room to work:-) Believe that God is already working in others, as He is in you; (maybe you won’t sense a thing . . . give God time and room anyway . . .just
Ask if you are trying too hard to make things happen. Maybe you need to get out of the way. Try simply to open a channel to God and keep it open - be that bit of pipe through which God's Spirit flows, like water, a conduit for His power.
Take hold of your time but don’t fill it; be willing to relinquish control of your schedule. We can end up missing opportunities of our life if we attempt to control everything. Relax, breathe and follow God into life.
Experience different forms of Christian faith (Coptic, Orthodox, Charismatic, Catholic, Baptists, etc. Be concerned that people really come to know Jesus Christ - not just about Him, but trust too that there are windows and avenues in other Christian faith experiences that can enrich you and others.
Study cultural history and church history as well as Biblical History.
Seek deeply a life of prayer and dependence upon the Saviour. Look for a sense of serenity, inner rest and inner stability.
Ask 'normal people' (those who do not yet know Christ) if they see you as a Christian. Are you getting through? Ask them. Be with people who never go to church. Jesus spent most of his time with ‘normal people’.
Show people a picture of God, as best you can - the way He really is; help them see themselves the way they really are; then, they’ll see and hear and respond — some day.