(PLEASE NOTE: This
third article is part of a series on The
Church. If you've already read the first
article which also serves as an introduction
to this series, please begin here to read my
response to the third question presented in
the introduction. If you've not yet read the
introduction, please read it first. The intro
sets up the purpose for this mini-series and
will help you to make sense of it all. Click
here to go to that intro).
have many points of focus, all based on their goals.
If their primary goal is numerical growth, then the
focus will be on activities, programs, and advertising
campaigns that are designed to bring in the masses.
The focus, then, would be on the superficial.
the goal is spiritual growth, the focus will be on
the people: Where are they? Where should they be?
How do we get them there?
pastors and church leaders will go to great lengths
to attract people and to try to keep them. If the
one determining the goal believes that entertainment
is crucial to keeping those who are coming, then the
focus will be on entertainment. The use of entertainment
as a means to keep up the interest of attendees is
fast becoming the order of the day. But shouldn't
we be more interested in leading people to stay because
they are excited about Jesus rather than because they
are being entertained?
within the same church you might find several goals
working with and/or against each other. If so, you'll
find several things competing to be the focal point.
So how do we determine what's best? I'm glad you asked.
6:33 should guide us in determining our focus: But
seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and
all these things will be given to you as well
"seek first" means to make His Kingdom our
highest priority; we put nothing ahead of His Kingdom;
not our goals, not our desires, not entertainment,
not even the people. If it's important to do firstly
and most importantly, then it's something to which
we are to give our best, our most, and deepest commitment;
our highest integrity.
since it's that important, were we to determine our
church's focus flippantly or vainly, it would belittle
its importance and cheapen its value. The only focus
we can justify seeking first is the one given by the
Head of the church…His agenda, not ours; His focus,
not ours; His purpose, not ours. Is
the church doing that? Well, not exactly.
problem I've observed is that most pastors understand
that to seek first God's Kingdom means to do justice
to the five-fold purpose of the church (I address
these in my response to the first question in The
Church: Part I). Pastors often attempt to lead their
churches to seek God's Kingdom first, but because
of heavy-handed church members with agendas of their
own, the pastor struggles to keep the church on course.
He finds himself embroiled in a battle with every
attempt to steer the church in the direction in which
God is leading.
he's expending so much time and energy trying to wrestle
the hi-jacked rudder from the controlling church members,
he's unable to lead the church as he should; and so
it just kind of drifts into the future with no distinguishable
direction or focus. The pastor purposes to let Jesus
be Lord of His own church, but others, be it a small
group, a long-time member, a deacon, or just an obnoxious
loud-mouth, feel they should be lord of the church.
And boy do they fight for it. I've even seen them
"campaign" for control and the last say.
have a vested interest in the direction of the church.
Often they spend numerous hours in prayer each week
hearing from the Lord about the direction in which
He wants His church to go. The Pastor often leads
with confidence and clarity because of this time spent
with Jesus. That's why he's so quick to stand against
any attempts at a hostile takeover or any efforts
to redirect the work of the Lord in that place. He's
been with Jesus; he knows the mind of Christ for the
church, so he confronts those who are just trying
to push their own agendas so that the lordship, which
belongs to the Lord, stays with the Lord.
could have a lengthy discussion about Pastors who
don't spend numerous hours in prayer and haven't heard
a word from the Lord, but we'll save that for another
time. Suffice it to say that it's imperative that
they do. Without it, they will not be able to discern
the mind of Christ for His church.
I want you to think about something with me. In the
New Testament, who made the decisions about the direction
of the church? On the Day of Pentecost when so many
new believers were ushered into God's Kingdom and
into the church, did the apostles gather everyone
together to ask their opinions about the direction
of the church? No! They were all new believers. They
were immature, untested, unaccustomed to hearing God's
voice, still not used to being filled with the Spirit,
and totally inexperienced in giving direction to a
church. So, the democratic process was non-existent.
In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a New Testament
example of a church that used the democratic process…for
the same reasons I just listed.
what happens in many of our churches today? As soon
as someone joins, he or she is given voting rights.
If an issue arises that begs the wisdom and experience
of mature believers who are experienced in listening
to the voice of God, in walking in the Spirit, in
engaging in spiritual warfare, in making decisions
that don't make sense humanly speaking, in deep intercessory
prayer, and in taking great risks, you're not going
to get the thing done correctly if new and immature
believers are permitted to set the direction of the
church. Sure, their voices need to be heard and their
experiences considered, but they've never done church
before, never been involved in setting the direction
of something wholly spiritual, and don't yet have
the spiritual discernment and capacity to know the
right way to feel about the issues. So, it would be
easy for them to vote in a way that would be contrary
to the direction the Spirit wants to lead the church.
That's why so many churches today are fractured, if
not broken. They've valued the democratic process
over the wisdom of mature believers and have paid
an incredibly high price.
New Testament example of the Apostle's approach to
leadership properly translated into our contemporary
era might reveal a more biblical way to modern church
leadership. One of the best models I've seen is that
of a Leadership Team, selected by the pastor and approved
by the church, that sets the direction for years to
come. The pastor knows the people, prays about each
person he's considering, selects a mature cross-section
of the body of Christ under the leadership of the
Spirit, and together they seek the Lord in much prayer
about the future of His church (there is wisdom in
the presence of many counselors (and pray-ers)…provided
they're mature and godly).
this Leadership Team, or something akin to it, goals
are set that give the church the proper focus for
making the greatest impact and the greatest number
of mature disciples possible.
if a church leadership team determines that the church's
focus is non-existent or out of focus, it must seek
to be "refitted." In fact, that may be necessary
every few years. Every church must occasionally adjust
and make mid-course corrections along the way.
segmented lifestyles, religious pluralism and even
the "worship wars" within today's churches
are among the most significant challenges Robert E.
Reccord sees ahead for evangelical Christians in the
21st century. Reccord, former president of the Southern
Baptist North American Mission Board, in speaking
to state evangelism, church planting, and media leaders,
said Southern Baptists must emulate the capacity for
rapid change of the B-52 bomber to be effective in
reaching a rapidly changing culture.
aircraft first flew in 1954 but because it is refitted
every four years with the latest technology it is
expected to have a life expectancy through 2030. 'At
every step of the way [the B-52] adapted and changed
to meet the conditions, while never losing sight of
what we must do. Church leaders today must determine
if their church's focus is "Kingdom first"
or agenda driven -- if Jesus is Lord or if it is letting
some domineering personality be lord. And if needed,
it must make every effort to be refitted for the glory
are churches doing that? Not many. Too many are intently
focused on maintaining the status quo. But maintenance
is a whole lot different than ministry. And the status
quo is overrated.
what do we do? We establish a team of mature believers.
We stay on our faces before God until He shows us
what our church's focus should be. Then we ask the
Spirit to be the Mechanic Who dismantles the outdated
aspects of this flying machine called the church and
refits it with all that's necessary to have the God-honoring,
God-given focus needed to impact our communities for
Christ. Yes, it can be painful and tiring; but what
could be more painful and tiring than the drudgery
of maintaining something that isn't working?
order to keep the main thing the main thing, we must
have a Kingdom-first focus in our lives and in our
churches. Let's purpose in our hearts to consult the
Mechanic soon…before we crash and burn.
4"Reccord: Gear up for rapid change to be effective
in coming years" by James Dotson, Baptist Press,
July 31, 2002. To read complete story go to: http://www.baptistpress.com/bpnews.asp?ID=13941
). PreachingNow Newsletter, August 13, 2002.
© 2009. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights