The Four Priorities — “Fitting Together”

This is part 3 of “Playing with Legos”, a series of Pastor Ron’s blog posts in which he is offering an behind-the-scenes view of some of the ways that our leaders have been helping us learn how to fit together . You can find the first two installments here and here.

Since last fall you’ve been hearing your leaders talk a lot about our Four Priorities that are giving shape to all of our efforts to move forward as a church.   We believe our biggest challenge as a church is to continue to develop our ability to make “room for one more”. To be the church that God has always called New Life church to be we will need to:

  1. Learning to fit together.
  2. Focus on raising the spiritual temperature through everything we do.
  3. Find how every aspect of our ministry can serve the world around us.
  4. Continue to develop the leaders we will need to be able to develop in these ways.

You know…I like the tables we have at church. We have a lot of nice furniture in our church building, but I find I really like the tables.   That’s because so many important things happen around those tables: that’s where we sit together, talk together, pray together, sometimes we share coffee or eat together.   We study the Bible in groups around those tables and we plan our ministries and work out leadership decisions as teams. I find I spend a lot of my time sitting with you around those tables.

I’ve noticed that some really important things emerge from the conversations I hear around those tables.   I’ve heard a lot of people talking about our “floor-writing” worship services this past weekend.   That whole experience was developed by worship and facility team members working together around tables. In our gym I see Food Pantry volunteers praying with clients around little tables, offering food for the soul along with food for the body. I love how our student ministry has teamed up with Checkpoints to offer groups that include both students and adults. Personally, my son Jake has benefitted from sitting around a table like that with some of you during the past year. And a combined Checkpoints/Student Ministry effort like that can only come with people from both ministry dream up those ideas around still other tables, seeking more effective ways to help us discover more about Christ’s grace and truth.

Those tables are where we do church together. As churches like ours grow we can all too easily end up with separate isolated ministries—20+ different ministries that share the same mailing address but little else.   Ministry is a lot harder that way: we miss a lot of good ideas, we grow weary more quickly and we can quickly end up simply going through the motions.

But what does it take to really join together? No one needs a lot of unnecessary meetings.   To join together our leaders are learning that we need to start by making sure we are asking the same questions. For instance—are we trying to create a smaller mega-church or are we trying to develop a unique kind of community?  Most churches can’t do both.   We also need to develop a shared vocabulary. Sometimes church members can use the same words but mean very different things by them. But more than anything else there are challenges of humility that usually surface. There’s an appeal to doing things “my way” even if it’s less effective.

One of the best examples I see of working together can be find with our efforts to develop what we are calling “span of care lines” throughout our ministry.   Instead of caring for and leading our congregation as one big crowd, we are looking to develop a network of one-to-one connections from our central leaders outward.   Each month the number of those connections grows as our leaders are connecting their leaders with others.  This effort will take a while, but I believe it will change everything at New Life Church.

So what about you? How do you fit in?

If you’re not sure where you fit in, but don’t want to be stuck simply watching church on Saturdays or Sundays, talk to me or a staff member.   We can’t promise an opening for everyone—it may be the end of April until we will have created solid, connected opportunities where you or others can find your place. But we’d love to talk…probably around some table.

Ultimately, churches aren’t simply about running programs, they are about connecting with people.   New Life Church has always understood that, and we are reclaiming that as we move forward together.   As I’ve shared with you, leading a ministry can be a lot like playing with Legos—so many pieces, but how do they fit best?

Where do you fit?