I started offering some thoughts last week on what needs to happen for the body of Christ to snap out of the funk it seems to be in. Yes, we can do Sundays pretty well, but what about the rest of the week. Is the church providing opportunities for people to live and apply their beliefs? If not providing opportunities, is the church at least equipping the saints for their purpose work? In my humble and limited estimation, we are not doing either particularly well. So rather than just gripe, I have always tried to provide options and ideas. You can read my first post here.
The second recommendation I have for changing the emphasis for local churches is:
Since we are so focused on Sunday morning, we need people to help carry out that venture. If you can usher, sing in the choir, do nursery or serve cookies to visitors, you will find opportunities abound for you to be "involved," But what if you can't do those things? First, you will face enormous pressure at times to be involved in one of those Sunday activities. If you cannot, then there isn't much else to do around church.
Yet churches should be proactively seeking to equip people for whatever it is that God wants them to do instead of trying to squeeze people into the few limited options available for ministry in most churches. Here's an example. I was speaking at a church once and stopped in the middle of my message to ask a question: How many of you here have ever thought about writing a children's book? Of the 250 people there, I would say that 20 hands went up! I was surprised. I then turned to the pastor and said, "We need to host a seminar here on how to write, illustrate and publish children's books." To my knowledge, that seminar never took place.
Churches should host a stream of missions trips to foreign lands or equip people for domestic missions in their own back yard. We should be creative in equipping people for successful work and ministry by providing a host of cutting-edge programs with follow up to help people take the next steps on their road to purpose.
For example, I often tell pastors that just because someone's purpose is to be a swimming coach, we don't have to build them a pool. But if God sends nine swimming coaches to one church, then the leadership has at least to consider building a pool, whether it is part of the pastor's "vision" or not. If the Holy Spirit saw fit to send that many with that particular gift, He must be up to something and the church should be flexible enough to cooperate.
When the focus of the church is on the denominational doctrine, the pastor or the leader's vision, the people then become useful only to the extent that they can help advance any of those three. I would argue that the Church, under the Lordship of Jesus, is about the people and His will for them. That is why purpose is such an important issue. One's purpose represents orders from headquarters and it is the church's job to make sure those orders are carried out.
When I first started teaching purpose, I thought it was a nice emphasis and didn't realize it was so life-changing and all-encompassing. Yet the church has been slow to respond. The issue isn't going away, and I believe there is still plenty of time and incentive for churches to "retool" and get on board the purpose bandwagon. Business has done so and I am working to see the Church follow as well. It's an issue worth giving one's time and effort and I want to help bring purpose renewal and revival to the Church in my lifetime and beyond.
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