As I’ve mentioned, I have found myself thinking about Lego blocks a lot lately: those little plastic blocks that fit together. I’ve found that regular building blocks may look like they fit, but they really tend to tumble with the slightest bump. Lego blocks, on the other hand, have a solid way of connecting to each other, so that they can stay connected.
Those Lego blocks help me better notice what I see God doing here at New Life Church. New Life Church has always offered a great welcome to people who join us—there’s always been “room for one more”. But as a church grows it needs to learn to not only welcome people when they walk in the door, but also to help them find a place where they can really connect and stay connected.
But how do we do that? That’s where our “Four Priorities” come in. Over this past year we as leaders have identified four key patterns that we will need to emphasize in order to increase our ability to help people connect in our church family: fitting together, raising the spiritual temperature, discovering how we can serve, and investing in our leaders.
Last week I shared some reflections on the importance of fitting together. I shared my thoughts about all the tables around which the people of New Life gather in order to share, pray, learn and plan. In short: we do church around tables. That’s our first priority: learning how to fit together.
The second priority we’ve identified is the importance of raising the spiritual temperature. This priority stems from a pretty basic question about what we’re actually trying to do in the ministries that we’re undertaking.
For instance: do we simply want to boost attendance in our programs? If the attendance at Coffee Break or Kingdom Kids were to climb 20% in this coming year, would that mean that we’d done our job? Or, to put it the other way: if the attendance in our student ministry programs grew, but the kids involved didn’t grow spiritually, would we really have done our job?
Most of us instinctively grasp that there is a line marking the difference between running a children or a student ministry simply to entertain kids, versus leading those ministries in a way that can help these kids experience real spiritual change. And in the same way it’s also clear to most of us that offering small groups that will entertain people is very different from offering small groups that can help people better embrace the healing and renewal found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may not know exactly what it is that makes that difference, but most of us are probably pretty clear on the fact that there is a big difference between those different perspectives.
Our second priority reminds us that our commitment is not simply to offer ministries that people enjoy, but to offer ministries that will offer people an opportunity to be changed. We want our kids to enjoy Kingdom Kids, but what we really want is for them to pray differently because they went to Kingdom Kids last Sunday morning. We want our people to feel good about participating in the various CheckPoints offerings, but what we really want is for them to feel like they have real friends who can walk with them through the changes that God brings into our lives.
Of course, it’s not always easy to figure out just how to accomplish this. But that’s why our first priority is to bring our leaders and teams together so they can talk together about just what it is that they are trying to do. That’s where all those tables come in, as I shared with you last week.
What about you? When and where do you get the chance to sit down with others to have the kinds of conversations that can raise your temperature spiritually?