Every church and its leadership is faced with choices. There are multiple decisions that are made every year that impact the future direction of the congregation. This weekend in worship I shared three questions that should serve as filters for every decision we face.
Filter #1: Are we being faithful to Christ and His Word?
I am a homeowner. After work I go to my house. Sometimes my wife and I will invite people to come to our house. But its really not my house. Every month I get a letter in the mail from my mortgage company that reminds me that they are the true owners of my residence. Though they rightfully own my house, I have a responsibility to care for it. I fix things that break. I pay for utilities and cut the grass. I decorate, furnish, insure and even pay taxes on it.
With that in mind, it’s not my church. It’s not your church. It’s not even our church. It’s Christ’s church. Sometimes we need a Vince Lombardi, “this is a football” kind of reminder of whose we are. I get that we will refer to the church as “my church,” but its good for us every now and then to stop and reflect on who really owns the Church.
Filter #2: Are we being faithful to the great commission?
Churches have invested a lot of time and energy to nuance and wordsmith elaborate mission statements that can be printed on the back of a business card or articulated on an elevator ride. They pursue brands, logos and icons that accompany the mission statement and serve as visible reminders of why they exist. All of that is to be commended as long as it reflects the great commission. Jesus did not delegate to us the responsibility of figuring out why we exist. Its his church and we must passionately pursues his mission and purpose for it. If anything we do does not reflect the great commission it should be viewed with suspicion if not altogether invalid.
Filter #3: Are we acting in the best interest of the whole?
Patrick Lencioni wrote a helpful book about silos, politics and turf wars. In it he describes the dangers that come upon any organization that operates independently versus interdependently. The desire for everyone to win and for everyone to be happy is completely understandable. But sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes churches have to make decisions based on whats best for the whole, even if it comes at the expense of one or more parts.
Last year I led our church to make a change in our staffing structure. The decision allowed us to virtually double the time investment in our youth and children’s programming and at the same time freed up tens of thousands of dollars that could be reinvested in ministry. Unfortunately, not having an additional full time clergy on board increased my personal workload in the areas of pastoral ministry and administration. The decision I led the church to make was not best for me personally, but it was the right decision and the best decision for the whole.
There may be additional questions that serve as possible filters for ministry decisions. But I think these three are a good start. What filters do you have in place?