Asking Questions to Find God's Will
This past week I had the opportunity to meet with a leadership team as they sought to think strategically about their church's ministry for the coming year. What does God want to us to be and to do during the coming year? It was a wonderful evening as we shared about their church and its ministry. We spent most of the evening answering a series of questions. When I consult with churches and church leaders I often go with a list of questions. The questions grow out of an examination of the congregation's ministry and their community. Some of the questions we discussed included: What is different or unique about our church? How do people in the community talk about our church? How do our newest members describe our church? What do we do well? What has been our most successful ministry this past year? I always like to begin the discussion with an examination of successes and ministry strengths.
As we talked about their community and their ministry, I also asked questions designed to help the church leaders examine how they were impacting their community. How is our church like our community? How are we different? What major transitions have taken place in the last three years inside and outside our church? How are individuals and families being changed because of our ministry? How many church members have internalized our church's vision? How many church leaders have?
The futurist Joel Barker has posed a question which I have restated for churches. What is impossible or seems impossible to do today, but if it could be done would fundamentally change our ministry for the better? Sometimes it is difficult for us to envision the future. It is hard to know what God wants us to be and to do? We may need help in learning to think creatively about our ministry and the future. God specializes in taking ordinary people and accomplishing extraordinary things for his kingdom. He specializes in the impossible.
For many congregations, one of the most strategic questions is what are we going to quit doing? Baptists are far better at starting new ministries than they are at turning loose of those which are no longer effective. When we attempt to everything we deplete our resources, spread ourselves too thin, and often end up with ineffective ministries. We also wear our members and leaders out. In order to free up time, energy, and resources for new ministries and opportunities, churches must be willing to turn loose of old ministries and programs which may no longer be meeting the needs they once did. Change is incredibly difficult. It is particularly difficult for churches. It is so easy to become locked in the traditions and comforts of the past, but God’s Spirit is dynamic and alive. He is always working in fresh and exciting ways. The challenge is to see his hand at work and to be willing to turn loose of our plans so we can join him in his work. What does your church want to be when you grow up? What does God want you to be? I encourage you to start asking questions about your church and your ministry? Maybe God will give you a fresh glimpse of his plans for you.
You can contact Jim Hill, Churchnet Executive Director, at (888) 420-2426, ext. 705 or firstname.lastname@example.org