Our Strategy by Rev. Dr. Brad Klostreich
Last month I wrote about our church’s new Mission Statement which is “To unite with Christ and make Him known.” In addition to developing a concise mission statement, our Mission Study Team also developed a strategy for ministry involving five precepts.
- Worship: We honor God through both our corporate worship and our individual lives.
- Fellowship: We relate to one another and to Christ through gospel-based community.
- Education: We learn about the person and work of Christ through bible-study, prayer, and corporate worship.
- Ministry: We serve God, our fellow Christians, and those who don’t know Christ through our spiritual gifts.
- Mission: We reach out to a world in need through charity, giving, witness, and time.
Many who are familiar with church growth principles will recognize these elements from Rick Warren’s famous book “The Purpose Driven Life” which has sold millions of copies throughout the world. However, it should be pointed out that these five strategies have existed in the Protestant Church for hundreds of years and are not necessarily “new” ideas. What is new is understanding how they relate to each other.
Worship is number 1! Presbyterians are known for their “Regulative Principle” which teaches that everything in our corporate worship should have its foundation in scripture. This is where Calvin differed from Luther who had a much more libertarian view of worship. Luther believed that if it wasn’t forbidden by the bible, it was acceptable. Calvin was much more restrictive. For him, if something wasn’t commanded by the bible, it wasn’t permitted.
Another unique concept is that four of these five principles will continue on for the Christian into eternity. In heaven we will continue to have worship, fellowship, education, and ministry. But the one strategy that will be missing is the opportunity to evangelize. There is coming a time when it will simply be too late. This is why genuine evangelical churches have a zeal to share the message of Christ while they have the chance here in this life.
So how do these strategies work together? On the surface, it seems like these strategies focus on church growth. But the real goal is to focus on church health. If we focus on health, our organization will grow by necessity because all healthy organisms (and organizations) grow. The way we create “health” between these five strategies is to have balance. All church leaders will have a natural tendency to focus on one or two strategies to the neglect of the others. Some pastors are naturally gifted in worship or fellowship, but may be weak in education and mission. This is why good leaders will surround themselves with people who are strong in the strategies they are naturally weak in.
So how do we accomplish balance which leads to health which leads to growth? There are two areas in which churches historically show their true interest. The budget and the calendar. If we don’t budget for education, then it won’t be a successful strategy. If we don’t schedule opportunities for mission and outreach, then they won’t be successful strategies for us. Many churches have a tendency to focus on only one strategy to the exclusion or neglect of all the others. That strategy tends to be the one that the leader is most naturally gifted in. Unless we establish an intentional plan to balance our five strategies, our church will tend to overemphasize the strategies that the leader/pastor is most passionate about.
Our strategies are not the goal. The goal of our mission remains to “unite with Christ and make Him known.” But our strategies are the instrument towards accomplishing that goal.