Thinking Out Loud

February 15, 2009

Churches Need a Radical Agenda

Filed under: Christianity, Church, missions — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:19 pm

This morning, for the third or fourth time in my life, I attended an annual meeting in a church where I do not hold membership and therefore can’t vote or speak.    I often find myself biting my tongue until it bleeds in situations like this.

envelopeAn hour earlier, this church had a literal mortgage burning ceremony.   (They don’t have smoke detectors, but that’s another story.)  At the annual general meeting, a man — who presumably helps count the offerings on occasion — asked what happens now to the amounts designated on offering envelopes for the “building fund.”   Apparently, people are still giving to this fund.    Good question.   Other churches would have waited until the following year to deal with that anomaly.


Someone suggested that perhaps they ought to help the building or maintenance of another church.   That’s a great idea.   (I know a church right now that urgently needs funding because they are attracting a large percentage of people that are either new believers or are hurting financially, but alas, that church is not in their denomination.)   The suggestion also included the possibility of taking these designated funds for use in the third world; building a church there, or even helping with local infrastructure such as well-drilling.  All good ideas.

I hope their board considers that one at the first meeting of its new term.

radicalAs I drove away from that meeting, I was disappointed that at as a church, they didn’t address their two most pressing problems:  (a) a youth and children’s program that is presently non-existent following the departure of a key volunteer family, and (b) the need to connect with their surrounding neighbourhood.   After all; it might be another 12 months before anything like this “town hall” forum happens again.

Put simply, this church — like so many others — needs something to ignite them, to inspire them.   They need a radical agenda.   They need to commit to something so big that unless God directly intervenes, it will fail.

Watching the movies Facing the Giants and Fireproof have convinced me that even little churches can do big things.   Can you imagine the first time someone there said, “Why don’t we make a movie?”   Not everyone can make movies like Sherwood Church, but it costs nothing to dream big dreams, to brainstorm, to introduce possibilities; to empower individual church members with input into the local church’s ‘big picture;’  or input into choosing its destination.  Then comes the harder, next step: To designate one as its radical agenda for the balance of the year.

Further discussion in comments.

3 Comments »

  1. AMEN Brother! I like the radical R on the post. All churches need more of these 4 R’s!

    Comment by Rick Apperson — February 15, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

  2. UPDATE: One week later; February 22nd
    [Go into “View” on your browser and hit “zoom” to make this easier to read.]

    Probably less than 1% of my total blog traffic is from local readers, but suffice it to say this particular blog post was NOT well received AT ALL. Here’s the highlights of my mail this week:

    (1) “You are not part of this church.” Apparently, three years later, my commitments elsewhere are interpreted as a lack of interest in this particular assembly. Ironic, since I hadn’t missed a Sunday service in the past eight weeks, but for the one with the big snowstorm. This is a church where one of its six elders attends less than 40% of its public services, and I’m the one who isn’t interested???

    (2) “You don’t have a clue what’s going on at the board level.” Apparently this is a “top down,” authoritarian church where the board makes all decisions. That refreshing “Town Hall” moment — a really beautiful part of the meeting that I think made God smile — when people started suggesting visions was apparently NOT supposed to have happened. (For me, it was the highlight of the whole hour.)

    (3) “Everyone is disappointed in you.” Apparently I am the cause of much conflict in an area without bounds; though nobody will tell me the names of the other people who I have so greatly offended. I mean, I spend all day dealing with people; you’d think I’d have this figured out by now. And when did the Church decide we couldn’t debate issues without people taking it personally. I love my wife, but disagree with her on all sorts of issues. At the end of the day, all that matters is that I love my wife.

    (4) “You need counseling.” Apparently, the above article is symptomatic of someone in need of help. All that, just for writing that churches need radical vision. Imagine if I’d said what I was really thinking.

    (5) “You can’t use people in the church as a basis for blog content.” Wow! Apparently all those people on the list to the right of this page who share stories from their personal interactions throughout the week are doing it wrong. Besides, as long as local churches enjoy tax exempt status, they are PUBLIC institutions which are subject to the complete scrutiny of absolutely everyone; people inside, outside and in-between.

    …After getting my wind back, I went back through the previous 30 days of blogging and tried to categorize everything I had written. What was its motivation? Determining what was critical versus what was closer to the intent of this blog: To inform, inspire, broadcast news of interest to the Christian community and celebrate the good things God is doing. With about 80% of this blog being links to other bloggers and websites, that means only 20% is personal commentary and original writing. I then categorized those pieces, and looked at the critically to see if they were too much rant and not enough constructive encouragement.

    Minutes ago, I got another e-mail. It reminds me of the controversy a few years back when Bruce Wilkinson — no relation — managed to get an entire book out of a single Old Testament verse containing a prayer by a guy named Jabez. I have read, and read, and read this little seven paragraph blog post a hundred times now, and don’t see what has angered some people so deeply.

    Little churches can do big things. Churches need a radical agenda. It costs nothing to dream big dreams. There. I said it all again here. I can’t take it back. I won’t take it back. If your church’s annual meeting is nothing more than an annual formality to approve a budget, then probably not much will have happened when you meet again twelve months later.

    God Himself broke into that meeting for a few brief seconds. I noticed that and celebrated that.

    Everybody else got suspiciously defensive. It makes you wonder.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 22, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  3. […] I paid the ultimate price for some things I wrote here a few weeks ago, I’ve had a lot more time to think about what it means to expect God’s presence in all […]

    Pingback by The Presence and the Perfunctory « Thinking Out Loud — March 31, 2009 @ 8:38 pm


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