This week’s podcast episode, #108, addressed the subject of church health, from our (Jeff and Jonny) perspective in our local 200church.
In October 1997 my wife and I attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference at Saddleback Church. Rick Warren and his team regaled us with stories and principles that described a fantastic way for us to think about the organization of our local churches. Rick laid out what he views as the five purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism.
Rick’s pragmatic and principled approach to ministry was extremely helpful as it organized everything in the local church ministry world into five columns. So helpful, practical, and encouraging – it was!
Rick wrote the book of course, The Purpose Driven Church book. However, the five purposes, and several others, have been in the New Testament for 2,000 years. They are not new, and Rick only discovered a way to organize, collate, and present them – helpful to the ministry culture at the time.
There was something missing for me though in the presentation. And years later I would say it like this: You have to see and engage the five purposes through the shades and activity of the Great Commandment. The purposes are deadening when the active ingredient of love is not present.
The previous paragraph may sound elementary, but it’s not, not at all, it’s critical! The proclivity to perform is commonplace for religious leaders. The penchant to do, finish, and check off is epidemic in church leadership. If you doubt for a moment this truth, just read Matthew 23 – yeah, the whole chapter! I said whole.
The Pharisees would travel over hill and dale just to find a convert to make twice as much a child of HELL as they were! Yes, this was the message of Jesus condemning the religious leaders, the shepherds, of his beloved sheep.
So when they approached him in Matthew 22:34-36, just prior of course to Matthew 23, they were all concerned with the letter of the law and the pecking order of the commandments. Jesus laid it out plainly, saying that these two commands are what all the law and prophets hang on.
And the five purposes. And every other activity in Kingdom ministry – everything, all of it, hangs on:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
So this is the beginning of our conversation about church health – the purposes of the church and the activity of ministry must all be viewed through the shades of LOVE.
When you approach a ministry in your church, whether to evaluate it or to change it, make the first consideration LOVE. How is love informing this ministry? How is this ministry encouraging the church family in actually loving others?
Do this, put a pair of sunglasses in the lap drawer of your office desk. Take a sharpie marker and write “love” on them. Before you make any considerations regarding programs, people, properties, or finances – put them on and view them through the shades of the Great Commandment – LOVE. I know, it’s corny, but if you do it you just might remember better what Jesus considered primary.
This conversation is TBC – to be continued…
Next week the “Enforcer” returns to the 200churches Podcast – Dr. Dan Reiland – on episode 109!
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