A Big Difference

Dr. John KimballAfter nearly 30 years in the pastorate and in various leadership positions in ministry, I have had the opportunity to learn many different things that either enable a church to flourish, or prevent it. These often have to do with organizational, pastoral and leadership issues; however, there is one critical aspect that rests with the congregation herself: what the congregation wants. The impact of this one factor on the kingdom fruit produced by the church is enormous.

There is a big difference between leading a church filled with people who want to be modern, fruit-bearing disciples of Jesus, and leading a church filled with people who simply want to be served. The former group approaches church life with expectancy and a desire to grow. The latter approaches church life with set expectations and a desire for consistency. One brings life; the other doesn’t.

Here is a list of my observations. Because of space limitations in the table below, some of these are a bit generalized, but you’ll get the idea:

  Modern Disciples The “Served”
View of Church Organic; Real People on a Transformational Journey Organizational; Members of a Group
View of the Bible Instruction for Life & Ministry Rules for Life & Ministry
View of Pastorate A Rabbi To Train Us in Righteous Living A Shepherd To Take Care of Us
View of Ministry Mainly Outreach; Meeting Needs and Introducing More People to Jesus Mainly “Inreach”; Meeting the Needs of Those Already in the Church Family
View of Church Finances Investment in Souls (Primarily Outside the Church) Provision for the Church (Primarily Inside the Church)
View of the Building A Tool for Ministry to be Used as Much as Possible A Place of Beauty to be Honored and Protected
View on “Change” Resistant to Complacency Resistant to Change
View on Ministry Quality Excellence (Give God Your Best) Perfection (This is the Way To Do It Right)
View on Missions Direct Participation (Local and Abroad) Financial Support Only
View on Leadership Seek Competencies Seek Credentials
View on Leadership Development Celebrated; Recruiting, Intentionality and Mentoring are Normal Jealous; Recruiting, Intentionality and Mentoring are Suspect
View on Church Discipline Instructional and Redemptive; Embrace It Disruptive and Punitive; Avoid It
View on Biblical Teaching & Discipleship “Equip Me”; Transformational “Feed Me”; A Devotional
View on Time Vision (Looks to the Future) Memory (Looks to the Past)
Primary Goal To Increase the Kingdom (Rule & Reign of King Jesus) To Increase Church Attendance
Hearts Tend to Be Other-centered; The Immanuel Agenda Self-centered; Multiple Human Agendas that Often Compete

While it’s true that every local congregation will be a mixture of these facets, it should be a wake-up call if a church finds itself residing more along the right column of this chart. It is the church’s task before our Jesus to walk with people in the power of the Holy Spirit, helping each to steadily become more like Jesus through active discipleship. A church simply cannot see people change and remain stagnant itself. There is no doubt that what a congregation wants tells volumes about its ability to flourish for Christ’s kingdom.

How does your church family fare?