Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing is really have an impact? I think it’s healthy to consider that from time to time. Fortunately, as Christ-followers and church leaders we have some wisdom to use as a barometer. Jesus has planned for us to do great things. In Christ, we should be making a big impact. (See John 14:12.) Jesus gave both the church and his followers this measure to determine whether or not we’re really having an impact:
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
I really do believe that a sign of health in churches and individually as Christ-followers is that we will “bear much fruit”. To me, that’s the bottom line distinction between a healthy church and a church that is just…”doing church”.
That’s my fear. I don’t want churches (or people) to so fall in love with their practices and traditions that they begin to see what they do as the measure of success rather than the fruit that’s produced. Individually, we are susceptible to the same trap. We can begin to get so focused on our religious activities (going to church, reading a book, taking a class, listening to sermon podcasts, attending the event, etc.) that we begin to think that’s the win. That may be part of the preparation, but the win is bearing fruit. God gave his one and only Son to save the world. Jesus didn’t die for his followers to attain more biblical knowledge — that sacrifice freed us to do great things and bear much fruit.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article from the McKinsey Quarterly entitled, “Have you tested your strategy lately?” As I’m reading through the article (which has nothing to do with church), these lines jumped out to me:
- “There’s always new stuff out there, and most of it’s not very good. Rather than looking for the next musing, it’s probably better to be thorough about what we know is true and make sure we do that well.”
- “Few companies, in our experience, ask themselves if they are beating the market — the pressures of ‘just playing along’ seem intense enough.”
- “Many strategies place too much weight on the continuation of the status quo…”
- “In our experience, companies that go out of their way to experience the world from the customer’s perspective routinely develop better strategies.”
- “Many good strategies fall short in implementation because of an absence of conviction in the organization, particularly among the top team, where just one or two non-believers can strangle strategic change at birth.”
What’s crazy is that I’m reading through this article, and I’m seeing so many parallels between failed business strategies and churches that have plateaued or declined. We aren’t focused on “what we know is true”. We end up just “playing along” and doing church like the other churches. We place too much emphasis on maintaining the “status quo”. We never really consider our message and our methods through “the customer’s perspective” — those we’re trying to reach. There’s an “absense of conviction” in our churches that is often traded away for what’s comfortable to those who already know Christ.
Let’s for a moment set aside any questions about methods and strategy. Are you bearing fruit? Are you impacting the community around you? Are you doing great things? If we are unwilling to honestly ask that question about our church (and our own lives), we’ll never have the conviction to put our preferences aside to engage God’s plan for us.
How about you? Have you tested your strategy lately? How does your ministry engage that assessment? Join the conversation by adding your comment.