Raising and Lowering Bars

‘We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple .’ ~ Neil Cole 

I saw a reference for a mega-church I had never heard of recently so I took a moment to check out their website. Glancing at their staff, they have dozens of staff including a senior director of technical arts, a pastor of worship arts, a pastor of worship and an executive pastor of worship. They are a big church with laser light shows and smoke machines and a cool band. There is nothing inherently wrong with all those things, but they require a lot of time, energy, money and people power to make happen. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

It is not just big churches that require a lot of people and energy to make happen. Our church takes a lot of energy, too! From the praise team and sound teams to nursery and children's programming to ushers and greeters to coffee makers to youth teams to simply maintaining our building, keeping a modern established church running takes a lot of time, money, and energy. There is nothing wrong with church programming, it can serve a real purpose in helping people understand scripture, connect with God, and grow in their walk with Jesus. 

And, sometimes, all the energy it takes to keep an established church together can keep it from engaging in the actual mission Jesus gave us of making disciples who make disciples. It can also raise our expectations so high for programming and having our needs met that we make it more difficult to start new churches. These high expectations of the church "show" can keep us from even imagining simpler, cleaner, more efficient and effective ways of sharing life and mission together. 

Over the past few years as we have stepped into church planting, I have been struck by several realities. 1.New churches will unintentionally look like the churches from which they are born. But newer church do not have the capacity to be as program driven as most older established churches. 2. When you plant new churches, if you do it well, you send many of your best and most spiritually mature leaders. There will be a talent and energy drain from a parent church (like Zion). Unless... 3. The parent church becomes much more focused and intentional in both discipling their members and reaching new people in the community with the gospel. These realities compel us as a church to both simplify programming and more intentionally disciple and "pour into" our existing members.

Over the past few months, our Consistory has been making some difficult decisions regarding programming in order to create the space and energy to focus on making disciples and setting our members loose in their neighborhoods to be ambassadors of our king. At the same time, a new team focused on developing a reproducible process of discipling others has just started meeting. Based on some God created events at our first meeting, I am already excited to see how God will use this effort to further the life and ministry of Zion. 

Or, to put it more succinctly, as Neil Cole may put it, as a church we are intentionally lowering the bar of how church is done and seeking to raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple. 

   © zion reformed church 2012