12 Things Your Church Needs to Know…by Steve Sjogren

…by the time it’s 12 months old

 

1. Don’t take yourselves too seriously
You are important to God. Isn’t it enough to know that without the need to prove it all the time? Walk in humility. Obey. Keep in step with the Spirit.

2. Outreach is your lifeblood
It’s tempting to settle in on the point of problem centeredness, especially if you’ve had a modicum of success. People will ask that you “pastor” them instead of persevering instead of living out your roles as Evangelists. Pastoring at that point is a trap! Don’t fall for it. Tell people to go to counseling who need help. Pray for them while you stand up after a gathering. Don’t you dare see them more than once in the name of ministering to them.

3. There’s always a process to what you’re doing
God is at work with your people and those you seek to reach. God is continually doing something though we are sometimes frustrated with his timetable. Our desire is for details to work out quickly. None of us are naturally patient, but then again God’s work is more stable than ours.

4. As you serve a powerful spiritual atmosphere is created inside and outside your church
As you consistently love, serve and show generosity to outsiders you build an almost tactile reality around your church that impacts others that has a profound spiritual effect on others at dimensions that are difficult to easily see or measure on the surface of things but is real just the same.

As people nearby experience this they will change their perceptions about God and recognize that he is positive – not negative, loving – not necessarily judgmental.

As you serve you are also going to shape the spiritual atmosphere inside your church community as you walk out the heart of God. Your people will see that serving is part and parcel of the normal Christian life.

5. Others are more important than your venture
Don’t worry about your success. As you serve, God will show up in your midst. His presence is the greatest guarantee of success.

6. It’s vital to teach on living generously if vision is to succeed
People will tell you they like your church because you don’t talk about money “all the time like other churches.” It’s tempting to fall into the trap of under emphasizing this vital topic. Of course, your people need to be challenged. Deep down they crave this instruction for their growth’s sake.

7. A vision for church planting
Set a goal from the beginning of your launch as to how many and how fast you will produce your first of several plants. Talk about that frequently from the front…with a smile of faith!

8. See the city as your mission field
World missions are great but God is first interested in capturing the hearts of your church with the immediate. The “ends of the earth” is safe because all it requires is a check and an occasional prayer. God has in mind that your “Jerusalem” will come before the ends of the earth. Serve them. Care for the poor down the street in practical ways. Pray for them door to door in ten-second segments.

9. Worship stirs the presence of the Spirit
One of the top couple of necessities for success is Spirit-inspired worship. If your worship doesn’t bring the presence of the Spirit then change it until it until it does. You won’t succeed in much else till you do.

10. Ministry to the poor is basic to a discipleship
We are all – 100% of us – are called to care for the Poor in some way. Ministry to the Poor is part of any outreach emphasis. I highly recommend you make this a vital part of your initial foray into the community. No matter where you live in the world there are people in need within a 15-minute drive, if not next door.

11. If you don’t make outreach the focus it won’t be any of focus
That’s just the way it works. Outreach will be relegated to a program side by side with ushering, working in the parking lot and making coffee with about as much passion as the other ones mentioned above. It will be an utterly ineffective token effort that is in place for members to point as something that says their church cares about the Lost even though everyone knows there’s nothing effective being accomplished.

12. The way your senior leader(s) live and model ministry (and life!) is the greatest determiner as to how the local church will approach discipleship
Your church is like a flock of geese flying in formation on a journey. At the tip of the flock is a lead goose directing the rest toward in a certain direction. Where that leader goes, the rest of the formation follows. It’s a simple principle. Like it or not, the leader is carefully followed whether the rest of the flock understands the principle or not. It’s intuitive.

Regardless of that leader’s natural inclination, it’s vital that they become the person the flock needs in order to grow. Any person – any leader – can change by merely determining to change. It’s a matter of making a decision then leaning into the empowering of the Spirit for change to happen. God will show up and empower that decision. It is easy for a leader to cop out by thinking they don’t possess the needed gifts in the area where help is needed. As that leader merely shows up with an available attitude God will provide the needed gifts, energy and physical resources. As St. John of the Cross said, “Where there is no love, bring love, and there will be love.”

The Crystal Cathedral – BTW, How’s Your Definition Going? by Steve Sjogren

What lessons can we draw from the demise of the Crystal Cathedral?

No matter what you think of that congregation, know that at one time it was a thriving model on the American landscape of churches. It was an amazing, trend-setting place that was super creative.

Things slowly changed however. Mostly the Cathedral stopped defining itself to the public, both locally and nationally. For whatever reason her leaders assumed that the public knew all about this place. That was a common but poor assumption. They were forgotten.

Church plants usually do a good job of defining themselves to their community in their initial phase. It’s imperative that a new church clarify why they exist and how they are distinct in their community. I’m not too worried about new plants, but I am quite concerned about the next phase most plants go through. It’s easy to forget those initial lessons learned and fall into a pattern of an inward focused on money, facilities, staff – and forget what got us to that point of initial momentum. Then BOOM! We become stuck in a cycle of irrelevancy.

If we don’t regularly, clearly define ourselves to our community – through strong acts of generosity, love and service – those around us will have no idea that we even exist. We will soon have no worries about our facilities, money or staff because there will be no one coming!

The church I lead in Oregon has been in Newberg for over 100 years (just SW of Portland). It is well-known to other Christians (18% of the city) but virtually camouflaged to the rest of the people for whom God so loves that he sent Jesus to suffer and die.

Things are beginning to change. We have taken to serving the city in a variety of ways. We are going door to door with hamburgers – squeegeeing windshields at gas stations – cleaning toilets at public places – and using the doors those projects create as connections to share Christ at whatever level fits.

To get back to where we started – if we do a bang up job of defining ourselves by serving we will soon become relevant. We need to make a profound impression on those around us in a truckload of ways. The ways you serve can vary greatly according to your community’s needs. God will speak to you are you pray a famous biblical prayer, “Here we are. Send us!” He absolutely loves to answer that prayer. Count on it. He will speak to you. You will not be forgotten.

Photo by Sarah Mount