Too many church leaders spend too much time on too many things that aren’t essential for an effective church.
But what are the essential elements of an effective church?
Good news. I’ve found the definitive list and today I’m going to share it with you.
But first, a few things that aren’t on the list.
A church doesn’t need to be big to be effective.
A church doesn’t need to be small to be effective.
A church doesn’t need a mission statement to be effective.
A church doesn’t need a choir or worship team to be effective.
A church doesn’t need suits and dresses to be effective.
A church doesn’t need to dress casually to be effective.
A church doesn’t need small groups to be effective.
A church doesn’t need a website to be effective.
A church doesn’t need a building to be effective.
A church doesn’t even need a pastor to be effective. (A shout-out to all my house church peeps!)
Our Priorities Matter
None of those things are wrong. Many of them can make a good ministry better. The church I pastor has or does most of them.
But they’re not essential.
When we start thinking they’re essential, then our way is right and other ways are wrong.
Then we start obsessing over them.
Wasting time, money and emotion on them.
Arguing over them.
Alienating ourselves from other believers because of them.
And ignoring real needs because of our obsession with non-essentials.
What Are the Essentials?
There are only two essential elements for a church to be effective:
Anything less isn’t church.
Anything more is personal preference.
No personal preference is worse than any other – unless it draws people away from either of those essentials.
No personal preference is better than any other – except to the person whose faith is strengthened by it.
The Relentless Battle
The problem with our personal preferences is that we really do prefer them. Sometime we prefer them over the actual essentials.
It’s too easy to allow non-essential preferences to take over our lives, churches and ministries. The danger isn’t that we’ll fail, but that we’ll do the non-essentials so well that we’ll accept them as a substitute for successful, effective ministry.
Perhaps the #1 job of a church leader is not to let our guard down in the relentless battle to keep the non-essentials from crowding out the essentials.
(* The first edition of this post had “people who genuinely love each other” as its second point. An alert reader pointed out that this was inadequate, as it led to an inward-focused church. That was not my intent, so I have changed the phrase to “people who genuinely love others” to more accurately reflect both an inward and an outward focus. That phrase is closer to Jesus’ original words and my original intent.)
So what do you think? How are we doing on the essentials?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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