Ugly Church

I love learning from other churches.  When I served a local church I would love to steal ideas and methods to try out in the local church I served.  It is inspiring to go and visit large thriving churches and come away with a fresh appreciation of how God can use the local church to impact a community and the world.

iStock_000000924311XSmallThere is a danger in going on these visits or to these conference.  The danger is in assuming that works in one of these megachurches will work in your church back home.  Every context is different so not all things work in all situations.  Every leader is different so what works well with one leadership style might not work well with another.  Every church is different, every community is different, every time is different.  What used to work may not work anymore when it comes to being fruitful.

As one of my former coaches put it we have to be careful of following every WillowBackBurg ResHillVillage model and method that comes down the road.  Someone once summed up the danger of copying methods by saying what you get is a Mr. Potato Head church with pieces that are added and removed.  We might call it a Frankenstein church or an ugly church.

So what is one to do?  Should we just forget ideas from others?  Of course not.  We have to glean principles first and foremost.  Applying principles is almost always useful.  We have to watch out about applying methods, however, because of the above.

Example…A principle one might get from another church is that a church should practice radical hospitality toward those who are coming to the church for the first time or the first time in a long time.  How that church carries that out is their method.  It might be through parking lot greeters, having an info center or giving out gift bags to guests.  Those methods may or may not work in your particular context.  Or, they may work.  Or, some of them may work.  You just need to recognize that when it comes to methods it may or may not work in your context.  It is good to remember this lest you become an ugly church with too many parts.

Evangelism: An Invest not an Expense

At the church I regularly attend we are beginning to put together the budget for 2015.  It is that time of year.  I am helping to put together the evangelism budget for this upcoming year.

headline faith and magnifierBeing involved in this process reminds me of something I heard a long time ago.  Spending in evangelism should be looked upon as an investment, not an expense.  Spending on the evangelism ministry of the church is an investment in the lives of those who are not currently followers of Jesus.  It is an investment that pays off in changed lives, saved marriages, changed communities, new family dynamics and a changed eternity.  The case might be made that all the church’s spending is in some way an investment.  There is some truth to do this.  However, it seems more than almost any other area of spending evangelism is truly an investment in others.

Does this mean then that we should just give the evangelism ministries of the church all the money?  Of course not.  While evangelism is important it is not the only the thing the church does.  Likewise, just as material investments like, stocks, bonds and real estate must be invested wisely and stewarded, the investment in evangelism must receive the same treatment.

As you think about monies spent on evangelism, think about them as investment and it will change your perspective regarding the funds allocated.