A five-year-old slugger smacks the baseball out into the field and sprints toward third base.
A tiny midfielder, playing her first soccer match, reaches down and scoops into her arms the ball rolling through the green grass toward her.
A small child on the basketball court receives a pass from a teammate and excitedly races to the hoop … without remembering to dribble!
If you have ever coached a children’s sports team then you know the importance of explaining the simple rules of the game. Initially, chaos and confusion reign supreme as children accustomed themselves to unfamiliar regulations. Yet, over time, the once-confusing rules become second nature, and the kids play together without even having to think about them.
Playing a sport without knowing the rules leads to chaos, confusion, and even can result in injury. Likewise, “doing church” without a reliable set of rules gives rise to disorder, dissatisfaction, and even harm. I’d like to share six simple rules that have helped me to navigate church life, keeping evangelism as a priority. May they provide you with food for thought as you consider, or re-evaluate, the ministry of the church you serve.
Rule #1: Stay in touch with headquarters
Lots of church leaders give lip service to prayer but don’t actually practice giving it priority. I heard recently that the average pastor spends less than 5 minutes a day in prayer! If that is true, it is no wonder that our churches are so lacking power from on high! The number one rule in leadership is: “People do what people see.” A praying pastor will soon find he has a praying church!
Rule #2: Follow the greater Golden Rule as you minister
We all know the Golden Rule. I like the Greater Golden Rule: “Do unto others as God would do unto you”. God is caring. God is helpful. God can be counted on. God is unselfish. God is merciful. God always works on me with eternity in view. God always gives me His best.
Rule #3: Take care of yourself
The bottom line issue is not church growth, but church health. A healthy child will be a growing child. A healthy business will be a growing business. A healthy church will be a growing church. Don’t get these reversed! Health always precedes growth! A healthy church family is a balanced church family. Think of it in terms of the cross. Upward – our relationship with God. Downward – going deep in the Word. One horizontal arm – fellowship with believers. The other horizontal arm – outreach to the unreached in your community and beyond.
Rule #4: Choose a positive attitude
“I (we) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (us)” (Phil.4:13). One plus God is still a majority! He who opened the Red Sea, brought down the walls of Jericho and raised His Son from the grave is still our greatest ally! Truly, “If (since) God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
Rule #5: Have an outreach plan
Component parts of that plan should include: Prayer walking/driving your community on a regular basis. Pray for the unchurched/unsaved in your community by name. Utilize G.R.O.W. as a weekly or bi-weekly outreach plan to involve your church. Have at least two BIG EVENTS planned for each year. Spring and fall are the prime times: block party, wild game dinner, extreme sports event, revival, horse whispering, etc.
Rule #6: Give more than you receive
So often communities look at the church as if the church always has its hand out asking: “What can you do for me?” Turn the tables on them, go into your community to serve. Ask: “What can we do for you?” Then do it!
The Church has been given the sole responsibility to share the Good News. Remember: It is not Good News if you don’t hear it; and it is not Good News if you hear it too late!