|Just to let y'all know, my first documentary has been making its way around the country slowly but surely. It's finding its way into a few people's hands here and there. I have had requests from seminaries, denominations, ministries, and churches all across America to use my little film. I'm able to distribute them without having to sell them because of you. So again, thank you.|
|I went to lunch with a friend a few months back and she commissioned me to write my findings on what a successful church is. I have failed to do so for many weeks now. I think I will now attempt a stab at it for the abyss that is now my readership on this site.|
Success. If I ask you, "What is a successful Christian," you would be hard press to define it much less give an example of one. We may talk about successful Christian athletes or successful Christian business people... but successful Christians? Yet when we bring up the idea of a "successful church"... well.... we not only seem to have an abundance of descriptions, we're pretty quick to give examples as well. How can this be?
Through my studies and travels I can honestly say that I believe the idea of a "successful church" is a myth. It doesn't belong in our Christian vocabulary. We may talk about healthy systems, loving people, missional communities, growing congregations. But successful? The only way we can gauge success in the church is by business standards: size, money, growth, power, influence... all of which I don't believe are consistent with the identity of the body of Christ.
Unfortunately, the system that most baptist congregations operate under lean more towards a business. Pastors and staff not only are rewarded for playing by the worlds standards of success (e.g. able to move into a bigger church and make a little more money.), but typically they are forced to. Pastors and staff that are full time have to collect a pay check and take care of their families. Therefore they have to do whatever it takes to keep people in the pews and keep things operational. This is where the idea of "success" sneaks into the church and, I believe, it begins to infect the system.
We may talk about faithfulness, authenticity, love, humility and other characteristics of communities, but "success" will never be a word to describe the people of God.
For me, we must ask, What is the most compelling? What is it that moves us? When I approach a church, I ask a few questions....If the world was full of this certain kind of church, what kind of world would it be? I question what a community's faith costs them? I look at the staff and wonder if there wasn't the possibility of another paycheck or new member, would they do things the same way? And in the end the question remains, does this community look like Jesus?
It is in the midst of these and other questions that we find a church that is radical, compelling, and living out their faith together. It is here that we find something that transcends what the world calls "success."
It has taken me a long time to realize I will never be a success. I'm a miserable failure by just about every measurement. "Degrees and schooling for what?" "How big is your church again?" "You mean you're not on staff?" And I have to admit that there are days that I realize I'm not totally dead to the allure of being "successful." But I confess that I have found the greatest freedom and joy from laying down all those former expectations from myself and others. I try to consistently trade them in for an ardent and adventurous spirit that is willing to follow Jesus into an uncertain and unknown future. I'm not real sure what the future holds, but it appears success doesn't seem to be where he's leading me and a safe return seems unlikely.
And we're back in business. This may pause on you because it's such a large file to stream. (No size limit on google.)
|Sorry. I deleted the video to post a more updated version, but google is acting a fool. So be patient and I'll have the video up again shortly.|