Well, here we are again sitting around the conference table, getting ready to make a couple of recommendations to our brothers at Franklin Christian Church.
FIRST: The Leadership Team needs to get together and craft a Biblical Vision Statement for the church.
You’ll recall that in the post “Case Study: Meeting the Leadership” I said that the Leadership Team can’t lead the church unless they all know here they are going. So, if you want to lead, fix a destination. OK, that’s really obvious. What I really didn’t get into in that post is what a Biblical vision would take into account. I’m going to paste in some language here from a written document that I wrote up for the leaders of another church some years back that explains the Biblical part. This document was a little academic, and assumed that the leadership there understood that making disciples is a loving process of building relationships, and just in case they didn’t understand that, i explained it verbally. So, where you see very imperative language, you need to recognize and keep in mind that we are not talking about bashing anybody over the head with a Bible, we are talking about building a loving community of believers… got it? OK, here’s the paste…
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” In attempting to set out a vision for this Church, we should begin our process by considering what the Bible says about the Church in general. For the sake of simplicity, I will draw from only two passages of Scripture, although there are many others. First and foremost, we must consider the Great Commission:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20
“In the Great Commission, Jesus was laying out terms of service: go, make disciples, baptizing, teaching to obey. These four actions are not suggestions, or something to be left to the professionals: they are direct covenant commands from God Almighty through Jesus Christ to you. This is not a command that will be measured by the attempt, but by the results. It isn’t enough just to go, we must MAKE DISCIPLES.
“The action steps are specific, direct and full of meaning: First, go is indicative of the need to actually do something. One cannot “go” while sitting on the couch or in the pew. To go means that we must get into the community to take the Gospel to the people who need to hear it so desperately. Normally we would refer to this as Evangelism which can take many forms. Second, make disciples means not only do we need to tell the community about the Gospel, but we must take those who will listen and bring them to discipleship. A disciple is one who knows what the Teacher knows, and who does what the Teacher does. Obviously, Jesus is the Teacher, thus we must cause people in our community to know what Jesus knows and do what Jesus does, as revealed to us in Scripture. Third, baptizing refers not simply to a form of ritual, but that we should cause people in our community to enter into Covenant with Christ. Teaching to obey refers to the finished disciple, who does what Jesus commands; thus the person’s life has been changed.
“You will no doubt notice that the Great Commission outlines a process of making disciples from start to finish. First we go forth with the message, second we teach people about Christ, third, we encourage them to enter into Covenant, and finally, we see lives changed forever. This is the purpose of the Church, and all of our efforts must fit into these four action steps. When we take this into account, we should find ourselves moving away from visions that are all about ourselves, our ease and comfort, and from creating social relevance or status, so that the result is the very expression of God, as He intended it to be from the beginning of time.
“Next, we can glean a list of positive and negative attributes of churches; the do’s and don’ts if you like, as listed by Jesus Himself in the letters to the seven churches found in the Book of Revelation.
|Hard work, perseverance||2:2||Lost your first love||2:4|
|Intolerance for wicked men||2:2||False religions||2:4|
|Testing false Apostles||2:2||Sexual immorality||2:14|
|Not growing weary||2:3||Nicolaitans||2:15|
|Hate Nicolaitans||2:6||Tolerating false prophets||2:20|
|Doing more than at first||2:19|
|Holding on to what you have||2:20|
|Remembering what you have seen and heard||3:3|
|Keep command to endure||3:10|
|Be earnest and repent||3:19|
“For the most part, these lists are self-explanatory. Nicolaitans is a combination of two Greek words meaning “to conquer the people”. It means the same things as Balaam which is taken from two Hebrew words. They ate food sacrificed to idols and practiced immorality. Irenaeus reported that they “lived lives of unrestrained indulgence”.
“A vision for the church has the Scriptural mandate to be based around the directive to make disciples. Everything the church does should be directed to this end. In evaluating any church program, making disciples needs to be the principal criterion for analysis, and again, making disciples is a results-driven activity. It is not enough to simply try: we must succeed.
What is a Vision?
“A vision for the church must first and foremost be something that leads to making disciples. Second, it must assume leadership in those who state the vision. Third, it must be clear, concise and understandable. Finally it must be easy to communicate to the people.
” We have already discussed the need to make disciples. The second question is: From whom will this vision come? Should it come from our Ministers, our Elders or from our congregation as a whole? It is easy to see that the congregation in general cannot really form and state a vision for the church, as they are in need of discipleship themselves. Left with the choice of the Ministers or the Elders, we end up either creating a division between the two, or having them work together in forming and communicating the vision to the people, and working together in its implementation. Scripturally speaking, there is little doubt in my mind that a Biblical Eldership is the place for such an initiative to originate, and that it should be carefully developed by the Elders in coordination with the Ministers, and implemented by the entire leadership working tirelessly for its success. This process is the ultimate definition of Christ-likeness. With this in mind, the question really is: Are you up to the task?
“A vision is not a slogan or catchy phrase; it is not a “mission statement”. A vision is a statement of policy priority that becomes the single over riding factor against which all church activities, programs and priorities are measured. Any new or old church program should be measured against our vision to determine if it is to be carried out or dropped.
” A Biblical vision of the church is all about Biblical priorities. As we have seen those are: go, make disciples, baptize and teach to obey. We must avoid confusing the vision with the plan of implementation, which will contain various elements relating to each of those priorities. For instance we may well take “go” and develop a program of community outreach, Evangelism and the like. For “teaching to obey” we may list our efforts in Christian Education and relationship building. These things are related to the vision, but they are not themselves the vision, for they are not so stated in Scripture; Jesus kept His directive short, to the point and all-inclusive; everything else the early church did followed from there. If that is the way Jesus operated, then that is how we too should operate, for while the particular programs may change as society changes, the dictate does not change. We might say that the Great Commission contains covenant terms and the plan for implementation will contain the elements of New Covenant Hesed such as love, service, submission, etc.”
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OK, we’re back live…
Second: Reach out to the church members who are “in the margins” and bring them into the greater community of fellowship within the church.
FCC has 60 members, and attendance of about 45. The other 15 or so are out in the margin. They attend irregularly, and even though the other members hang out together and do things together, these margin people don’t seem to be into the larger community. There may be any number of reasons, but if you leave them hanging around in the margins long enough, they will usually fall away. Most churches have margin people, but they forget that another name for margins would be cracks… and these are the cracks people fall through. So, I suggested that the leadership, along with the key members in the church (the next generation of leaders is what I like to call these folks) intentionally and deliberately make a serious effort to reach out to their margin people. Invite them to lunch, or over to the house for dinner. Get to know them and make them a part of the family. Let them know they are valued and cared for. Help them shovel snow or with the babysitting if they need it. If this is done lovingly and without pressure and hassle, most of them should respond positively and enter the larger church community, if for no other reason than they will want to be with their new friends.
Note: As I understand it, they had 60 in worship the following Sunday!!
Sorry for the word count today, but I thought that the pasting in would be of use to anyone who is wanting to get a church moving again… as a reference. This is 2 1/2 pages of a 14 page document, so there’s more if you need it.
When we get together tomorrow, let’s take a look at the congregation and see if they are willing to grow as a church.