What foundation are you building your church upon to ensure it is healthy? Jesus said he would build HIS church and the gates of hell would not stand against it.
There are five functions (fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, mission) clearly seen in Acts 2:42-47 and all of them must be bathed in prayer. These functions can take many different forms in different churches and in different cultures. With the Great Commission as a direct command from our Lord and Savior there is a need to examine four important things: core values, mission, vision, and strategy.
How can a prayerful, intentional, deliberate process enable your church to be the church Christ intended her to be? These back-to-the-basics, foundational items will help you to successfully plan towards a healthier church and will require four things:
– a lot of prayer
– becoming more outwardly focused
– dreaming God dreams of your preferred future
– actually living out these imperatives
Healthy churches must have a clear understanding of what they value – their mission, vision, and strategy – to be effective.
How does God want you to express Him through your church in your community? With that challenge, some begin to work diligently on a really cool mission/vision statement that is scriptural, catchy, and flows off the tongue. It may sound great but here is the reality check: Having a vision statement in no way guarantees that your church will be a visionary congregation. But realize that discerning and governing your core values and developing a mission and vision statement is a great step in the right direction.
Ken Priddy says this: “Most congregations claim allegiance to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, but few truly demonstrate a sacrificial love for neighbors or a serious commitment to outreach and evangelism.”
When churches are no longer functioning as they should they begin to fall prey to becoming insider focused on those who are already involved. The voices of people inside the church become louder than those outside the church and outside the faith.
A church not living on God’s mission has actually lost its reason for existing.
As you consider values, mission, and vision you must prayerfully seek a way for greater buy-in and ownership of your congregation to make sure you value what God values. Are your values actual values (your behavior backs them up) or are they aspirational values (who you desire to be)?
Churches say they value making disciples because Matthew 28:18-20 says you should be making disciples. Then the question you must ask is, “Are you making any disciples?” If you are not making disciples, why are you not making disciples?
A great starting place is with your core values since they are why you do something. They describe what you believe but they are more than that because they determine how you behave. Values are what move you from head knowledge into action.
This is what you are supposed to be doing. Mission is your identity and determines your direction because it is why your church exists. Mission is God’s mandate and we move our church into obedience of that mandate.
Where are you going when you carry out God’s mission? It is seeing the possibilities of a brighter future (Ephesians 3:20) but also being aware of the difficulties and challenges in the journey (Luke 14:28-30). Vision is the motivator to get you to God’s preferred future.
How you are going to get there? The answer depends as much in choosing what you should not be doing as it is what you should be doing. Many things we call vision are actually the strategies we have developed to live on mission. Strategy is your road map to following God’s commands and direction.
These foundations empower you to develop a clear articulated “vision proper” because you have prayerfully determined where God is taking you and how he desires you to get there. A necessary ingredient for these foundational elements is a clear definition of success. What does “success” look like for your church? Success is being faithful to who God has called you to be. Success is doing what God has called you to do as well as you can. It is the investment of your church into the ministry opportunities that He opens up for your congregation.
This process (core values, mission, vision, and strategy) will allow you to focus on discovering and implementing what God wants you to accomplish. God measures success by how faithfully you follow him, not what you accomplish.
Biblical success focuses on the internal not the external, the eternal not the temporal, and divine standards not human standards.
Biblical success comes out of humility and is not concerned with notoriety, praise or recognition.
Biblical success is doing everything for God’s glory.
God measures success by how faithfully you follow him, not by your outward accomplishments. Our job is to remain faithful to our calling and direction while God’s job is to accomplish results. You must trust God for the fruit while you focus on being obedient, faithful, diligent, persistent, and committed. You are called to serve God faithfully with excellence by doing the best you can with what he has provided.
The good news is that we have video training for all of these foundations with tools and worksheets. If we can help please let us know!
Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ healthychurchpodcast.com. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing