The Tale of Two Churches: Special Edition
This is a story about two churches. Both churches have been around for a long time. They have very similar programs, teaching styles, histories, doctrinal statements, and structures.
Both churches have had an incredible impact on the world — directly serving, sending, and supporting all kinds of ministry and church plants. Both churches place the bible squarely in the middle what is taught. They have very loyal people. Some drive over an hour to get there. The topics of a message are thoughtfully presented and deeply rooted in scripture. The music is presented well with the heart of worship. There are many people that attend small groups or events in these churches. The activities for children and students are well attended.
There are a lot of similarities to these churches, but there is also a huge difference. One of these churches is excited about what God is doing and where the church is going. The other church is hurting and sad. The church that feels alive has people who feel very empowered to do ministry. The church that is hurting has people who are leading and are bitter or frustrated.
Healthy VS Unhealthy Churches
Now, you might think that I’m calling out specific churches, and I’m not. We know a lot of churches like both of these in our city. You might be in one of those two churches I just described. You also might be wondering what the difference is between the two. If all the parts of the church being contrasted are the same, why is one healthy and one not? Why is one excited and one sad? The answer to this is not simple because there are legitimate reasons for these things that are different church to church. But overall, there are two things that we see as key indicators of the church that is healthy, and one was not. Those indicators are vision and communication.
Vision and Communication
You will find a lot of blogs on this site the deal with the concept of vision or elements of improving communication. But we often don’t talk about the effect vision has in a positive or negative way and how communication reinforces that positive or negative influence. In most churches that we see that are healthy and effective, we see a clear vision that everyone’s committed to and is communicated effectively.
- a reinforcement from the stage, from ministry leaders, from the staff, from communication
- what the vision and mission is
- how a church member can step in and participate in accomplishing it
In a church that is unhealthy, we tend to see the opposite. No clear vision, poor communication, and a lot a lot of assumptions people make about where the church is going, what it does, or if there’s any place for them to participate in any of it. We see far more spectators in an unhealthy church than we do in healthy one. Healthy churches have a much higher percentage of people who want to be involved. They carry the torch of who the church is and are an active part of accomplishing the church’s mission.
Two Questions Churches Should Ask
As you read this blog, you might be wondering how to make improvements in these areas. There are a variety of different processes that you can go through individually and as a church to improve clarity around vision, mission, and direction. In turn, you can communicate those things more effectively. But one of the simplest things that a church can do is just ask a couple of questions.
Question one: why does your church exist?
To clarify, you’re not asking why the big C church that’s around the world exists. You’re asking why your church exists. Asking the question this way is important because it personalizes the uniqueness of your church in the community that it resides. With all its uniqueness of style, presentation, and people. Why does your church exist? If you can easily answer this question, it tells you that there is a breakdown in understanding of what your vision is. We encourage churches to work through questions like these with a small team. It can be complicated to do this with a lot of people, so having a couple of staff members, some volunteers, and key board members brought together to talk these things through can be very helpful.
Why does your church exist?
Question two: how do you accomplish this?
“This” is referring to the answer from the first question. This question helps you define the mission of your church and the unique things that your church does and/or brings into a community to see the reason you exist fulfilled.
Find the Answers
It’s very easy to make vision, mission, values, and culture a huge barrier to overcome in our minds. We think that we need to write a very elaborate statement for each one of these things that has some eternal profound language in it. But the answers to these questions don’t have to be written in that manner. They can be written simply out of what your heart beats for as a church. Write it out. Write it again. Get everybody on the same page. Get to point where you know it without having to read it. Make it easy to remember. Once you know it, own it. Know how you fit into accomplishing this work. It’s bigger than your title; it’s bigger than your job description.
We were owning God’s purpose for your church. Share it with everybody you can think of. Get them to share it. Help them to own it. And step back into God’s purpose for you with passion excitement and health.