It’s easy to focus on what’s missing, especially when we care about our congregation. I half-jokingly tell people, “We’re not small – we’re intimate.” It’s easy to classify churches quantifiably: big budgets, beautiful buildings, with jam-packed parking lots, but I don’t believe God is all that impressed. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing. That kind of thinking usually begins with the words “if only.” “If only we had a better preacher.” “If only we had more classrooms.” “If only we had more people.” “If only, if only, if only.”
Instead, spend some time thinking about these five principles:
- God has given us everything (and everyone) we need to glorify Him in this place.
- We need to work from strengths and not weaknesses.
- Focus on friendship! Hospitality works.
- Support what works. If people aren’t willing to attend or participate in a program/activity, let it go.
- A congregation is no stronger than her leadership. If the leadership is neglected and tired, the congregation is in big trouble.
I believe we need to recognize and use what God has given us. It is His Church. He is in control, and I believe God has given us everything (and everyone) we need to do His will in this place. God is not going to hold us accountable for what we don’t have! We will not be numbered with the goats because we do not have a JOY bus program. (Remember those?) God is vitally concerned with how we use what He has given us. Isn’t that the point of the Parable of the Talents? Therefore, I don’t believe He will give us more until we use what we already have.
A corollary to this belief is that we need to work from strengths, not weaknesses. For example, once I encountered a dying congregation. The average age of her members was somewhere just over 70. They decided they needed more young families and to accomplish that, they hired a youth minister and a pulpit minister who had a young family. This church was working from weakness, not strength. Why not reach out to the seniors in their community? That would have given them an authentic voice.
Likewise, no two congregations are alike. Corinth was very different from Antioch! What makes your congregation unique? Don’t focus on what is missing – focus on what God has blessed you with!
Churches are made up of people, so let’s begin there. Most of the people reading my little articles are people. Have you asked yourself what gifts, talents, experiences, and opportunities God has given you? Take a moment to answer the question, what makes you special? What are you passionate about?