THRIVING FAITH COMMUNITIES ARE . . .
Thriving churches sense that God is up to something for the good of the world. The Spirit blows in and through God’s people as they align their lives God’s dreams for the world.
Jesus-centered faith communities focus on following in the way of Jesus. They seek to be like Jesus, think like Jesus and act as Jesus would.
Thriving churches extend Christian hospitality to all people. They invite people into their lives and invest in their dreams. They seek to bring out God’s best in everyone they encounter.
As they love God and each other, thriving churches turn outward to love their neighbor as themselves. They live on mission as they serve and bless their neighbors, friends, co-workers and school mates.
BE CURIOUS . . . LISTEN DEEPLY . . . SHARE AUTHENTICALLY . . . MOVE BEYOND THE SURFACE
THRIVING CHURCHES AVOID THESE TRAPS
Duty without love. Too many 21st-century congregations are modeling the first-century church at Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). Calendars are full but hearts are empty. Love for Jesus, fellow saints and one another is growing cold in these later days (Matthew 24:12). I wish I had simple solutions to these critical issues. It’ll take widespread revival to reverse these trends. In the meantime, while we pray for and anticipate such a move from God, we can strive to make sure the people we shepherd and churches we serve buck the trend.
- What if we were launching this ministry for the first time – how would we do it?
- What if we dropped this program?
- What difference would it make in lives of our faith community or larger community?
- What if we added an online component to this ministry so that others could participate anytime, anywhere?
- What if we partnered with local congregations rather than do this just by ourselves?
- What if we had a cross+generational mix of new people plan this event rather than the same people who have done if for the past 10 years?
- What if this program was broken into short blocks of activity rather than something that runs year-round?
- What would this event look like if we incorporated everyone’s learning style rather than just one or two?
- What if another staff member took over this ministry who had gifts and passions more closely aligned to it?
It’s wonderful when the nursery is full of newborns, yet not so good when they make up a sizable portion of the congregation each Sunday. If your first grade child or grandchild made an A on a test of one-digit addition and subtraction problems, you’d beam with pride. However, would you feel the same way if your high school calculus student aced that same set of problems?
According to Christian author and researcher George Barna “half of all adults who attend Protestant churches on a typical Sunday morning are not Christian.” Having spent 14 years as an unsaved church member, I’m especially sensitive to this sad situation. A name on the church roll doesn’t forward to the Lamb’s book of life.