First of all some disavowals and disclaimers regarding the title. You’re not going to fix your church. You may be part of that process. You may even be called to it. You may quite possibly be that which is in need of fixing. However, it is the Lord with those set aside in leadership in an attentive, Spirit-led, collaborative and congregational sense that the Lord fixes his church. The Lord does. I don’t. I want to make the excruciatingly obvious comment that there are 2 equal and overwhelmingly unhelpful and extreme responses to this challenge. It is not my church it is Christ’s church. If the Lord wishes for me to participate the Lord indeed will make that known. Unless I have the clear and certain understanding that it is his church and not mine he will have no need of my services. In fact he would find my over eager and rather pretentious ambitions problematic.
The second disclaimer is an old story from Michael Green who was asked by someone where they could find the perfect church. He said, “I’m not sure Ma’am, but when you find it please leave, else it will no longer be perfect.” While that is rather typically Michael Green it has some merit. It is a good warning that placing the criteria for appraising a church’s wellbeing on my satisfaction is thin criteria and gruel indeed.
I raise this topic because several of our churches are finding themselves in profound states of transition and are in need of encouragement, direction, and guidance. In the fear that accompanies such transitions a lot of blaming goes on instead of an equal amount of praying, reflection, and waiting on God. It’s a pity really how we disperse our energy. This particular topic focuses on a very small number of specific things.
The first is examine, truly examine, and reflect on whether there is trouble in your church or whether it is a function of your own discontent and particular spiritual challenges in your life at this time.
Secondly, please ensure that when your church is healthy or if possible before what appears to be disaster strikes that you have agreed amongst yourselves what are the markers of wellness in your midst.
Thirdly, has God given you vision, mission, and purpose in the life of your church? If he has placed a calling on your hearts has he also at this stage given you the resources to fulfil that calling? All of the above questions can be answered with the help if needed of Sam Breakey and his team in their Church Health Assessment.
Finally, I have been unrelentingly pressing these following questions for personal and collective reflection for the last 6 months and will continue while I have the ability to do so… Do you pray with anticipation to seek to mature in your own walk with Christ? Do you ask the Lord that he will make himself known to you? Most especially, do you ask, since evangelism in a healthy church is not simply programmatic (I love Alpha) but is an extension and function of the prayerful openness of God’s people to share their faith, do you regularly ask that the Lord would make himself known to others through you? How exciting, how world changing it would be if the Lord reinforced that impulse in each of us so that the only thing that needed fixing in our churches was where we could put all the people who have just come to faith!
Notes from the Family: Welcoming Rob Patterson to Carey Centre as Vice President of External Relations.
Quote of the week: G. K. Chesterton, “Reason is itself a matter of faith.”