A Few Things I Wish Every Church Understood

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I found these comments at Len Hjalmarson’s blog, nextreformation.com.

The observations are insightful and should probably be required reading for every church leader. They’re short, simple, and easy to understand. But the ramifications of actually implementing them in your church would be enormous.

A couple of years back Mike Bishop asked some great questions:

“If you are reading this and have some vested interest in a community of faith – whatever your flavor, old-school or new-school, emerging or submerging – do yourself a favor and stop caring about the following things:

1. The number of people in your church. Really, it doesn’t matter.
2. The “relevancy” of your common worship.
3. How often or if ever a new person shows up at one of your common worship times.
4. The size of your church budget, building, or paid staff.
5. What any other church in the world is doing – good or bad or otherwise.

“And please start caring about the following things:

1. Actively looking for the evidence of God’s kingdom – where what he wants done is done – at work, at home, at Starbucks (heaven forbid), at the beach, and anywhere else you might find yourself in the course of living your normal life.
2. Simple, honest worship.
3. Having friends that don’t give a rip about your church. Maybe you might just rub off on them.
4. Giving away money to people who need it; using existing, familiar (and free) spaces for common worship such as homes, restaurants, parks, or community centers; flattening the organization’s need for paid leadership and support roles.
5. Go on a unique, unreproducible journey with a group of people and rejoice with other groups of people who do the same.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the kind of stuff you print out and nail to the doors of the church. Maybe that’s why Len named his blog what he did…

4 responses to “A Few Things I Wish Every Church Understood”

  1. This is pretty amazing stuff! As my husband and I embark on a search for a new church home, I just wonder….is there any church that could be described that way? I fear there is not, so then that begs the question….where in the world do we go? Do we just accept that the churches in America today are off course but some are still doing some wonderful things, and look for one of those? What things are worth putting up with in order to find a fellowship? We have a long road ahead of us……

    I’m so grateful for your blog. I have learned so much from it and always look forward to the next post!

  2. Two years ago I would have said a hearty AMEN to the list. Today I serve a church that is made up of the homeless, recovering addicts, those living in deep poverty and the most broken of homes, which is a beautiful mess. We have embraced much of what you have mentioned, and now find ourselves desperate for help to continue doing just this. We have a facility that functions as a community center, which needs to be paid for, and due to the fact that this group that lives as the church has nothing, or next to nothing, in terms of monetary value they can’t exactly pay for it. They serve, they give of their most precious of gifts, their talents and lives, but there are still needs to be met. We have just three on our staff, two of which live below the poverty level themselves (I’m one of them), who provide leadership and shepherding of our crazy little community. Scripture is pretty clear that some are called to be apostles and priests, yet we want to the church to skirt the responsibility of taking care of the those leaders? In theory, these ideas are wonderful, but in practice it is very, very messy. A beautiful mess, but there are still practical realities to being the church, living in community, missional living or whatever you want to label it. We serve in a city that has the HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE COUNTRY, and we are trying to create new job opportunities while providing shelter and food in the mean time, which takes resources and leadership. So Jennifer, feel free to wander in Muskegon, Michigan and join our beautiful mess we would love to have you, it is messy and yet we cling to seeing God’s kingdom vision to shine even when it feels very dark at times. I am quickly learning that bold theories and statements are found in books that encourage and challenge, but the actual practice is to engage in a beautiful mess called the church.

    • Wally- You’re a wonderful and inspiring example of someone who got tired of all the talking and decided to start doing something about it. Thank you for this example. And from what I learned from your blog (which I recommend to everyone, pittswork.blogspot.com) God continues to stretch you and your family and your church way beyond what most of us would be able to withstand. I implore all you faithful readers to prayerfully check out this ministry and then to follow God’s leading. These guys need help!

  3. If only….
    Where do you find people in this day and time that are more concerned about truly helping others “live life” representing joy, love, and even struggles? It is a tremendous task for some to go beyond the veneer and actively pursue genuine friendship and concern. God call us to love as he does, (which is unconditional), but is it really a thing that is attainable? When we begin to look around and see the “fingerprints” of God that are everywhere, then I feel we can begin to truly worship the One who should be the center of all we do. Just a thought!!

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