Sometimes people spend so much time focusing on the details, that we completely lose sight of the big picture. I find this is especially true in the church world—ministers and parishioners run around so consumed by programs, classes and servicing the saints that we forget about the big things—the great commandment to love God, to love neighbor and, most importantly, the great commission. The biggest concern of any group of believers should be how to take the Gospel message to those who are far away from Christ.
If you polled a typical group of believers, I suspect the consensus would overwhelmingly support this idea, yet we continue to sit in our churches, so hyper-focused on ourselves—our preferences, tastes and comfort—that we do nothing to reach the lost and demonstrate the love of Christ to the world in a meaningful way. Moving a group toward a specific goal is naturally difficult—with so many people and parts involved in a typical church, without a strong, united vision, it is very natural for individuals to lose sight of the mission and focus on positions and departments. Church culture proliferates this tendency through exalting individuals and minimizing the collective mission.
My father became a pastor when I was very young, so I’ve seen the gamut of church styles, doctrines and administrations over my lifetime. More often than not, I’ve observed good intentions for reaching the lost in these churches, but their policies, attitudes and behaviors work in direct opposition to these intentions. In order for the church to thrive and meet the Gospel mandate in an ever-secular world, we must move away from the personality driven model that is so pervasive in the contemporary church, towards a system that builds strong, Spirit-led cultures that organize individuals and departments around a collective mission. The Gospel message cannot remain in the confines of the hallow buildings we call churches—it must be actively carried by people who are passionate to see lives changed in every day life.
I’m talking about empowering people to be effective ministers—energizing and motivating them to work towards a common, Godly vision. These ministers will know the Gospel message and have the confidence to communicate it in a relevant and vibrant manner. The personality-driven model has made Christianity a spectator sport, but Jesus and the Disciples played full contact Christianity!
One of the profound characteristics of the early church was that they held the teachings of the Apostles in common. This common, empowering culture that produced the incredible results observed by early church disciples like Stephen. In churches today, disciples are too often relegated to church service rather than Christ service—they open doors, usher folks to their seats and help with the mundane needs of the church. While these things are necessary for a successful corporate gathering, do they do anything to empower and equip the saints for the real ministry of Christ? Just about nothing the modern church concerns herself with helps to reach those far away from Christ. Our systems train the saints to serve the church and promote the idea that the work of ministry should be carried out by a select minority of believers.
The view that God has gifted and chosen a few and the rest of us are there to watch the show, go home and leave ministry at the church door must be eradicated from our thinking! I fully acknowledge the leadership gifts that God gives to the church—throughout the early church God sent men to groups of people. These men preached the Gospel with power and God confirmed His word with many signs and wonders. I am in no way suggesting that leadership should stop leading—rather, I am proposing we reconsider how Godly leadership trains, equips and empowers the saints. I am suggesting we strive to build a church culture that moves us toward our mission and puts the big picture front and center. Instead of the iconic-personality approach of modern day Christianity, we need to trust the Holy Spirit to inspire everyone to participate in ministry. We have glamorized senior ministry to such a degree that we have buildings full of people waiting for their big chance, meanwhile missing all the simple, everyday opportunities for ministry that made Jesus and the early church so effective at reaching the lost.
The big picture is not filling seats—it’s evangelizing the lost and making strong disciples. I want to encourage everyone to realize you can make a difference in the world, and it starts one life at at time.
– Ps. Ken
Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.