15 Mar 2014

Opposites Attract

Exploring the “Kingdom Principle”, a post for Ministry Leaders

“All are welcome.” “Come as you are.” “God loves everybody and so do we.” Sound familiar?? To the “trained” “spiritual” (churched) ear, these phrases are nothing short of common. Although the underlying premise behind each statement is birthed from a sincere place, in order to maximize impact and maintain effectiveness, the “church” must evaluate if their actions are emphasizing or prohibiting these professions.

Consider the typical worship service. Leaders within the ministry, licensed, ordained and otherwise, “engage” members to participate in various activities to offer “praise” and “worship” unto God. To a member, these prompts are expected petitions, to which the believer responds with the anticipated results. The common “Lift your hands and worship Him,” or “Clap your hands and put a praise on your lips” instructs the congregation on how to proceed in the service. Even the times when one “opts out” of the interactive behavior, it is not due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of what is being requested.

On the contrary, to the visitor, the non-believer, or the commonly described “unchurched”, the very nature of the suggested action, not to mention the verbiage itself could all very well feel like a foreign language. What are we doing to make sure they understand BEFORE we entice their participation?? What measures have been implemented not solely to ensure they feel welcome, but that they learn what is being asked of them in order that they too might participate??

You may believe such insightful explorations into church culture and “lingo” should be reserved for what many would call a New Members Orientation class; but, what if they never make it to a class? What if the overwhelming interpreted exclusion from the “experience” prevents them from making that step to join or even return to the temple? Is that soul lost forever?

Delving further into the unintentional, yet subconscious seclusion of the church, what is being done to transcend denominational barriers and the like? Even if you dare not attempt to venture outside of the extremities of your preferred denomination, how are you painting a God-centered picture of the Kingdom if you never engage in ministry opportunities beyond the expected context? When your ministry “fellowships” with other ministries, the pastors emulate each other’s preaching or teaching styles, the choirs replicate each other’s musical repertoire, the membership inherently personifies each others’ fashion sense and the list goes on. When was the last time your church was exposed to someone who believes in who you believe, confesses what you confess, but does it in a way different than your own (service format, dress code, worship style, song selection, etc.)?

These questions are not meant to attack or discourage the current practices of the church or its leadership, but more so to highlight areas where potential deficiencies exist or disparities remain. As the ecclesia, the ones who have accepted the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) as their personal charge in life, we have to be open to hear, to learn, to process, to develop and to adapt to ensure that purpose does not go unfulfilled. We have all fallen short of the expectation at some point or another. The question now becomes, what are we doing to ensure such remains a past mistake versus transforming into a future hindrance?

The fact of the matter is, you may very well be doing all that is necessary and within your reach to remove stereotypical ideologies and biased premonitions amongst the group of persons you have been blessed to lead. How can you tell? Ask them! Survey the membership to determine their “understanding” of the Gospel, its application, its audience, etc. To whom do they believe they can effectively witness and why? Do they feel equipped to share the Word with people outside of the confines of your building, even those who don’t look and act like them? What do they believe is the REAL message of ministry?

As the leader, you must not only be willing to assess the need for change, but also, to go the extra mile and make it. Not sure where to start?? I humbly suggest the children…:)

– TeF


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