Perhaps you have noticed that your life has become busier than it used to be. For most people, life is not only busier, but much busier. And this busy-ness impacts the church – greatly.
The busy-ness of man impacts even the best intentions of any church. Of course, the church represents the people, and although a church may have a mission statement, most people do not. Thus, people get busier and busier. Worse, not only do they not know why they are busier, they also do not know how to break free from the busy-cycle. So, for many, the church is one of the first items to be removed from the list. Thus, the church is unable to fulfill her mission because the people who make up the church begin to pull away.
The situation becomes critical when the leadership of a church begins to think that they are too busy and others should help them without considering that perhaps the reason others do not help is because they are too busy. And thus, the busy-cycle is not only personal, it is compounded at the relational level.
So what can be done? Well, let me offer a few ideas.
First, church leadership must understand that the mission of the church is not meant to simply get things done in order to achieve the vision of the church; the mission is to achieve what God desires. What does God desire? He wants His people to grow as individuals (discipleship) in the context of others (fellowship) while celebrating Him (worship). To do this effectively requires systems to be in place. In other words, if a church takes time to organize itself properly, people can find opportunities for growth and meaning which can then lead to an understanding of personal development and mission (in the context of others) and may help people to see the need to break the cycle of busy-ness, at least, the needless busy-ness so many experience.
Second, church leadership must develop a strategy (and likely a multi-faceted strategy) to allow the systems to function. If people are to grow, how does someone get plugged into a particular ministry where they are not only able to serve, but challenged to grow in that service as well? Many people may be content to attend a church, but committing to serving the church is another matter. If a church’s leadership expects everyone to take the initiative in this matter, that leadership will become greatly discouraged over time. Developing a strategy to help people to grow takes time, but having one in place can lead to a more effective church being more effective in ministry.
Third, church leaders need to communicate the processes involved. If people are unaware that a strategy exists, or even that the church desires to partner with them in growing as a disciple, then very few people will grow. Again, people are busy. And while some of that busy-ness involves serving in the context of a church, if the service is not fulfilling (which likely includes some level of challenge as well – at least at times), many people will stop serving in that area, and some will leave the church entirely.
So, developing systems, constructing strategies, and communicating both are imperative for the church to engage people over the long term. By taking these steps, a church will be closer to fulfilling her mission as she helps individuals find and fulfill theirs.
As I begin to conclude this post, let me provide one very practical idea to help begin this process. Develop an annual calendar.
What do I mean by an annual calendar? Determine the various ministry concepts and events in which the church is engaged each year (that is, year after year after year). Depending upon the size of church, before a church-wide calendar can be developed, individual areas of the church may need to develop one as well. Once these concepts and events have been identified, place all of them on a calendar and determine how the WHEN affects the WHAT. Again, people are busy and if a church has too many opportunities in too short of a time-frame that appeal to a certain group of people, some of those opportunities will not be supported. Thus, it is important to consider not only what can be done, but also when the right time is to do it.
Once the what and when has been considered, try to keep them consistent. Of course, the actual event or ministry opportunity will be unique each time, but if you have an back-to-school event every year, rather than making it on a particular date which will fluctuate by day during the week (when people are often busiest), schedule it on a weekend shortly before school starts (like the 2nd Saturday in August).
Of course, events and opportunities need to be evaluated and ministries which are consistently ineffective should be removed or substantially changed, but having a set calendar year after year (whether the focus is on something large or small) can help people begin to plan for it well in advance. Certainly, not everyone will be able to attend any and all functions, but having an annual calendar (and better using that calendar to move people forward in their personal relationship with Christ) is a way for the church to plan ahead while also showing a concern for the schedules of others, even if others do not realize it.
Being a healthy church is impossible if the people who make up the church are not healthy. Leaders that are able to move people to embrace the mission of the church while also respecting others time and areas of commitment can later challenge people about their commitments and time without seeming judgmental or being condescending. Then, the people of the church will be better inclined to realize their full potential by declaring and fulfilling their own missions which will be in sync with the mission of the church because their mission is more in sync with the principles taught by Jesus.
Next week, I will dive a little deeper into the idea of how a church’s systems and strategy can help lead to fulfilling mission and achieving vision.