19 Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law — to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without that law, like one without the law — not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law — to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. (1Cor 9:19-22, HCSB)
By now we have discussed the tremendous freedom we have in the church movement to shape worship and communication around culture in order to draw people into relationship with Christ and develop them into fully-devoted followers of Jesus. Leadership is about developing more effective ways to reach the people and motivate the people in our world. It means adapting the message to the culture without compromising the truth. It means motivating people to action that changes their lives in the short term and long term the way God intended.
The church is really good at doing this in new cultures where we adapt the message to speak to people who have not heard it, but we fail to help existing churches continue to change in order to keep their message relevant to each new generation of people and the culture that they are creating. Culture does not stay the same! The church must not either. It must find ways to take God’s timeless, unchanging message and communicate it to new generations and new cultures, so that more people come to know Jesus.
A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:–
‘Give me,’ quoth I:
‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger:
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.
This is the contemporary English in the day of Shakespeare. Can you read it well? If so, we need to talk. Language changes. Technology influences and creates change. Think about the last time travel movie you watched: Back to the Future. Star Trek. Hot Tub Time Machine. Things were different, weren’t they?
The Key Question is: In Clarksville’s culture in 2015, how do we effectively reach and challenge people to grow spiritually?
Willow Creek has some research to offer on the answer:
What do you think helps people grow spiritually?
The Danger of Church Strategy:
The danger with strategy in every respect, is that spiritual growth is nearly impossible to measure, and those who try to measure their success often count the wrong criteria, leading to a focus on attendance only, or knowledge only. We can sacrifice quality for quantity or long term impact for short term impact. Effectiveness must be balanced, not extreme. We can succeed at one aspect of effectiveness, but fail at others.
For example: We don’t want to misrepresent parts of God’s plan because they might prove distasteful simply to get more people to come to church. It’s appropriate to avoid certain topics on Sunday in order to target key subjects and people, but to an extreme, people get a very incorrect view of the faith.
For example, Joel Olsten is a controversial figure in the church today because he emphasizes God’s desire to bless us and he avoids talking about the suffering and trials that God uses to shape us. His portrayal is so extreme that we would say he misrepresents God, the Christian life, and the church. He has gone too far in his desire to attract people and in his effort to reach people, by making faith in God all about getting blessed materially in this life. He may be reaching people for the faith, but they are likely to fall away from the faith because they don’t properly understand the role of trials and the necessity to follow God regardless of what they experience in this life.
We believe balance is the key. Balance the message and you’ll build solid Christians who will build the church.
This week I encourage you to listen to the following talks on why we think our strategy is balanced and effective at reaching people and making disciples with great long-term impact:
7 Practices of Effective Ministry:
- · Clarify the Win
- · Think Steps, Not Programs
- · Narrow the Focus
- · Teach Less for More
- · Listen to Outsiders
- · Replace Yourself
- · Work on it, Not just In it
Why to Plant Churches – Tim Keller
Reading on Church Strategy and Growth:
oneChurch strategy thoughts:
· We do Sunday worship hoping to engage and reach non-believers, because Sunday mornings is a great time to do it!
· We believe a sermon can speak to and challenge BOTH non-believers and believers. Each applies the principles in a different way, but both can grow in key areas.
· We organize Sunday and Wednesday sermons based on key topics that meet felt needs, rather than simply teaching through the Bible. Both are good ways to learn, but topics are more effective at engaging people, and Sundays are hard to engage people.
· We believe Sundays are most effective at growing believers spiritually when they serve, so we do two services: one to attend, and one to serve.
· We believe life change and Bible study is most effective in groups where relationships form and can grow deep—so we constantly create opportunities and push people toward small groups.
· We believe too many churches try to do TOO MANY THINGS and don’t do them well. We are committed to funding, supporting, and launching independent ministries to meet key needs that we can’t focus on without hurting our main focus. We won’t ever do foster care support, Awanas, Boy Scouts, etc. officially as a church, because our goal is to focus on and do Sundays, outreach events, and groups well. We want to focus all our resources and time on those things, and replicate churches who do the same. We may give them money, promote them on Sunday, or let them use our building…but we won’t try to integrate and manage them as a church.
· What do you think our church could do differently or add that would make us more effective?
· Which of the 21 Qualities of a Leader you have read about do you have most? Which one do you lack most?
· What church strategies do you like? Why?
· What church strategies do you dislike? Why?