When people ask me what denomination I am, I tell them I’m a Bapticostalic. I came to know the Lord in a Baptist church when I was twelve, was baptized in a Foursquare church, attended an Assemblies of God Bible College and spent four years as a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity while I had ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God. That summation usually garnishes some interesting looks. So, I’m a Bapticostalic. And yes, it’s a word I made up.
Because of this diverse background, I’m finding it difficult to find a church home. I resigned my former church position a few months back, and though I’ve visited a number of congregations, I’ve not found one that I feel is the right fit.
Granted, I’m a hard sell when it comes to the local church. I’ve been around too long simply to “go to church” because it is what Christians are supposed to do. Besides, I’m beyond going to a church so it can “meet my needs.” If I don’t have a place to invest the gifts God has given me, then I don’t feel I have a place in that congregation.
Knowing my situation, a friend on Facebook said to me, “So, curiosity begs to know what it is you are looking for in a church. It’s tough to find a “fit” when you don’t match any of the standard molds. I’m just wondering what blend would be *your* chosen church?”
That got me thinking, so here is a partial list of what I would like to see in my “chosen church.” And before you think I’m dreaming, I know that everything I’ve listed is already taking place in some form in churches across America, except for number 6.
1. Ephesians. 4:10-13 Leadership – After Jesus ascended He gave gifts to the Church, including Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. I would like to be part of a church that has all five of these gifts working together in a leadership capacity “to prepare God’s people for works of service” (vs. 12). In this model, the “pastor” would only be one part of the leadership model. The pastor would pastor people, the teacher would be the primary speaker, and the evangelist wouldn’t even be in church on Sunday. He or she would be out evangelizing people who aren’t in church on Sunday. What a novel idea!
2. 80/20 Reversal – Most of us know that 80% of the work is usually done by 20% of the people. I would like to see that reversed. I know there will never be 100% of the people who will work for the Kingdom, but it is possible to see a higher percentage using their gifts for God’s glory.
3. Intentional Equipping of the Saints – And I mean INTENTIONAL. The vision statement for my first church was to see people caught, taught, increased and released. This means we actively look for ways to catch people by the love of God and see them saved, teach them the Word, increase their effectiveness as a person and minister by understanding their gifts and giftedness, and then release them to use those gifts for the Kingdom. This also means we must be creative in finding ways for those gifts to be used. Naturally, most of these gifts will be used outside the four walls of the church, and that is as it should be. Too often, leadership implies that if we are not working in the church, we’re not working for the Kingdom. Fortunately, that idea is starting to fade.
4. Staff Performance Based on Leaders Equipped Versus People Accumulated – Most often, churches evaluate a staff member on how well they do their job. The music minister is evaluated on how well he or she leads worship, and the youth pastor is evaluated on how many kids are in the youth group. I’d like to see performance evaluations based upon the people who are equipped to use their gifts for the Kingdom. Numbers are not as necessary as proper training and mentoring. Jesus only had a base of twelve, but they were properly and intentionally discipled to continue His work after the resurrection. This leads me to my next point.
5. Leaders Who Lead To Replace Themselves – Jesus knew He was training His replacements, and since that time, every Christian is working to see the original mandate of Christ fulfilled in their generation. Leading to replace yourself is obvious in every part of our lives. Parents raise children who will replace them on earth. Teachers teach students who will one day replace them as teachers. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters and roofers all take on apprentices to teach them the fine points of their trade. Why is this such a foreign concept in most churches? I recently read that the purpose of an apple tree is not to produce apples, but to produce more apple trees. I want to be part of a church where the leadership culture is intentional about training the next generation of leaders.
6. Musical Worship That Is God Centered, Not Performance Centered – I recently went to a church where the worship leader had great talent but little ability to lead people in worship. His was mostly a performance, and as such, it was very hard to follow. Even those songs I was familiar with were hard to follow because he sang them in his own unique style. Worship leaders have the responsibility to use their talents to bring people into the presence of God through music. They are not to use their time to show the world just how talented they are. I would like to see a church where only the musicians are on stage and the lead singers are standing in the audience with wireless microphones. My ultimate dream would be to have a church in the round. This would help eliminate the feeling that we are watching a performance on stage. Furthermore, everybody in the congregation would be able to see one another and not just that backs of people’s heads and the faces of the worship team.
These are just a few of my ideas for the ideal church. Naturally, many people will disagree with me or will have other ideas. If so, I’d be delighted to hear them.
Amen! Wow, what a relief to see your list today. I’m struggling with my local church and you write a list that looks very much like what I’d like to see!! One single addition, but probably fits under “Intentionally Equipping the Saints,” would be “Inviting Practical Exercise of Spiritual Gifts.”
Too often we expect people to know and exercise their spiritual gifts without giving them opportunities to try some on to find out what they’ve got and time to figure out how to use them.
Thanks for the lift!
I hope you are blessed in your search.
I say amen and amen. I have a funny story about number 6. The last church I served at before coming here went through a program that had us outline core beliefs and all of that. I got tabbed to preach the message about our core beliefs regarding worship. I was the youth guy and also led the praise and worship times, so it was a natural request and fit for me. In the midst of my sermon, I started talking about the performance mentality of worship, both on the part of the people leading and in many cases the persons in the seats as well. To illustrate my point, I walked to the back of the room and stood behind everyone and told them to keep their eyes forward. I explained that the person standing up there is not to be the focus. Our focus in worship is on God. I always wanted to try leading in worship from the “back of the room” instead of the front, but other than that short part of my sermon, I have never found another opportunity to do it.
We actually have attended a worship service before called “In the Round”… very cool, casual worship. 🙂 Nice!
It’s funny to read this this week. On Tuesday night I was talking with the worship team (I lead worship in my church) and I told them that I wanted them to back off their mics for part of worship… because I wanted us to worship CORPORATELY… in one voice…. without seven of us being “showcased”. They seemed to like the idea, and I think we’ll do more of it. Worship is not meant to be a performance… we are simply “lead worshippers”. I love that idea.
#5 is dead on point. And in my experience, the “next wave of leaders” gap isn’t limited to church. It’s remains a foreign concept in many institutions across the land of Me, Me, Me.
Love reading your writings.
Greet Barbara for us.
I think that I could have basically written this post myself! My husband and I are also looking for a church and are struggling with the task. your list is basically what we are looking for too. It seems rather hard to find though! We keep reminding ourselves that no church is perfect.
Right now one of our big struggles is finding a church that doesn’t feel that it is necessary to sacrifice Biblical truth for cultural relevance. Hence my husband’s blog: Unrelevant (http://unrelevant.wordpress.com/) He has recently begun to blog about churches as we attempt to find the right fit for us.
Ok… I agree with you a thousand percent and i could add some… like for instance:
A church that teaches critical thinking skills among its people and to not fall for the okeedoke even if its from other maintstream or popular evangelical preachers. In other words, we may have democrats, republicans, and independents in the same congregation, but no one will make me pick based on false morally masked topics… they won’t say that because we are against abortion that we don’t have compassion for the living when they are poor…life may begin at conception but it doesn’t end at birth for those who can’t fend for themselves… so don’t stop Rhonda at the clinic if you won’t be there for her at the hospital when she had nothing to feed the kid….
a church that is holistic in its thinking… I am going to blog this one day but isn’t it wild how when it come to technology we can send sattelites to outerspace, have billions of bits of information on a chip… all the while the foundation of such ingredients were here for thousands of years… we come into the knowledge of such things as time goes on… which is to say that the capacity of man to learn and increase happens over time… and YET when it comes to our thinking about the Creator of the universe we are literally CAVE people who think that God has basically said all there is to say on important contemporary issues etc. We are spiritual cave men and technological giants comparatively… and yet we believe the same God is the originator or technology… you dig me? Same ole messages, same interpretations handed down from old men of dominating cultures, sexist, racist, classist. You ever think about how primitive racism is for instance? Think about it.
But don’t get me started… You hit it on the head and I guess thats why i am attracted to a lot of things you say. You have a like hunger that I can relate to… but you are no fool are are tired of folks asking you to be one for the sake of the team.
Ha! The stories I could tell of my own experiences. Honestly I can see me visiting a church but not joining one for these reasons and all of the things you mentioned that I have yet to see.
we won’t condemn one sin while turning a blind eye to the other. We won’t cover up the issue of homosexuality
but don’t get me started.