The Importance of ‘Purpose’ part 2
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
In part one, we established that it is imperative that churches and ministries have clear goals and purposes. What is the source of purpose? Scripture! God’s Word establishes what the church should accomplish and it is our job to make sure we point our churches and ministries toward those goals.
The second step, and sometimes the most painful one, is the process of evaluating ministries to make sure they are accomplishing the Biblical purposes of the local church.
Let’s be honest. It is very easy for churches to move away from purposed ministries over time and shift toward a ministry mindset that values established ministries or tradition. Understand, there is nothing wrong with tradition within the church so long as tradition does not drive purpose or theology. The problem comes when churches begin valuing ministries based on their past success or tenure rather than their present effectiveness in accomplishing the Biblical goals of the local church.
This becomes painful when the local church begins analyzing it’s ministry resources through the filter of ‘purpose’ rather than the filter of ‘that’s the way we have always done it.’ As difficult this process seems, it keeps the local church focused on what it is charged with accomplishing in culture versus focused on running ministries out of habit. But take heart…this process doesn’t have to end with ministries being cancelled or events being savagely scratched off the church calendar!
It is possible to analyze your church ministries and, in that process, tool them to more efficiently accomplish Biblical church purposes. That’s right. You may need to tool or morph existing ministries to help them accomplish your established goals. That morphing process might include adjusting schedules, changing positions on the calendar, choosing different types of speakers, revamping themes/decorations, re-thinking how you advertise the ministry/event…you get the point. Sometimes it is necessary to completely overhaul the old engine because it is leaking oil, has valve problems, timing isn’t right, has terrible fuel efficiency. The same is true of church ministries. Don’t be afraid to analyze and adjust to accomplish your ministry goals.
Sometimes you come to the conclusion that a ministry has simply run its race and has lost effectiveness in a changing culture. That is a hard conclusion to come to but one that might be necessary for certain ministries in the local church. It doesn’t take much discernment to realize that as culture has changed, the way your reach into the culture and are salt and light must change as well. (Let’s pause here and clarify that we are not speaking of changing theology to fit a changing culture. Stand firm on the absolute truths of God’s Word!) Church ministries that were effective 30 years ago, 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago might have lost their effectiveness because of changing culture. As technology changes, ministry effectiveness changes as well.
I remember helping my parents in the late 80’s and early 90’s in their military ministry in Charleston, SC. We overhauled an old Ford panel van and added seats, paint, and away we went picking up Navy sailors for Sunday morning services and a home cooked meal at our house. It was normal to have 10-15 men and women who would come to church, a Bible study, or a Saturday night pickup basketball activity. Ministry was great and we all were having a blast serving the Lord! Times changed. As the Navy base was phased out and my dad’s focus was more on the Air Force base, it became apparent that airmen had little in common with sailors. We continued having them to our house, but they all had their own vehicles, were independent, and were more into technology. When the Navy base closed, my parents were faced with a very difficult decision. How do they minister to the changing face of the military in Charleston, SC? I’m thankful that my parents worked hard to morph their ministry to continue reaching the militiary with the Gospel, but I can say it wasn’t easy and was the topic of many family conversations at the Thanksgiving table.
Are you willing to make the hard decisions for your local church. It may require adjusting current ministries to help them regain their focus. It might demand serious conversations about whether certain ministries have lost their effectiveness. Can I encourage you that it is worth the time and effort to ensure that your church ministries are focused on accomplishing the Biblical purposes of the local church.
Part three will be published soon…”More is always more, but more isn’t always better”
DJHarry Isaiah 64:8 We are the clay!