Resurrecting a dying church is much like working in an ER. The dying patient may have many medical problems, but in order to keep them alive, priorities are made on those wounds and injuries that are most life threatening. As we seek to rescue the congregation we love, we can’t fix everything at once; therefore, we prioritize.
What should we be doing …
- Philosophy. Our philosophy of ministry is like the foundation of a building – the larger the structure the more time that must spent on building, explaining and seeking to ensure God’s people have ownership. As Jesus explained this process, he said: “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, NRSV). Our goal is to see every person inside the fellowship own our philosophy of ministry.
- Process. Process deals with results. While some do not like the following language, we are in the reproductive disciple making business. Jesus spent three years building the men who would take on the task of globalizing the Gospel. This is the purpose of the local church … making disciples who do the work of globalizing the Gospel. How we do that is what the leadership must restore … along with the “who” question. Will the leadership take up the task to turn the church back to its primary purpose: worldwide evangelization? What will be the method our church uses to achieve this vital mission?
- Presentation. What form will our process take? Once we have a ‘road map’ to follow, we need to flesh it out. This takes into consideration the target audience we hope to reach. While many fall into the ‘we want everyone to attend’ mindset, having a clear target is essential. Jesus sought those who were spiritually hungry, recognizing them from the crowds that came for the ‘entertainment’ he might provide. As we focus our efforts we carefully seek to remove any human obstacles so that the spiritual truth of the Gospel shines clearly to our audience.
- Practice. How do we put our discipleship into practice? These are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our day-to-day operations. This relates to so many aspects of ministry … Worship? Discipleship? Fellowship? Mission? Mentoring? Location? Each day we let our philosophy guide our process, presentation and our practices so that people are won to Christ, discipled and shown how to become ‘fishers of men.’
Like in the ER, we can’t wait until we have one procedure completed before we start on the next one. We jump into each area and pray, hoping that God will grant life to our ailing congregation.
In our next article we will explore issues in the area of our philosophy of ministry.
Adapted from Dr. Smith’s new book in process, “The Tantrum-Driven Church.”