Go to almost any church in America and you can hear someone say “you need to give everything to Jesus”. While at the same time, as I write this, 94% of churches in America are in some rate of decline. Something that’s been on my heart for the last couple of years, working in and for several churches and ministries, is that churches say they want to change the world through their ministry but they don’t understand why they are not growing spiritually or in numbers.
(disclaimer: numbers of attendees or dollar figures are NOT what I am talking about in this blog)
One of the unseen, chronic habits of churches in this situation is this:
They ask people to give 100% of their lives to God but do not allow them the ability to practice it. I think the best place to start in this discussion is to realize that God gave each and every one of us gifts, talents, and life circumstances so that as a group of believers we can meet specific needs of the people that God will put before us. So what does this mean???
A church or ministry can not and must not try to follow a formula or template for meeting the needs of others. What we must do, is take a look at the people that God has provided and use them to meet the needs of the people that God puts before you-without man made barriers.
But take a look at any of the churches that fall into the 94% that are declining, and you will find an organization that unknowingly requires people to give less than 100% of their abilities to serve the God that has changed their lives. Churches do this by limiting resources, not letting go of past failures, legalistic behavior, putting personal preference above effective ministry, negativism, and the list goes on.
So how does this play out??
I would love to give you examples of this, but the reason I haven’t written this blog yet, is that every time I try to come up with an example, there are too many ways a person could look at it and completely miss the point.
Instead what we need to look at are some basic Biblical principles.
Don’t try to make your organization something it’s not! Take a good solid look at who is there, and who God has called you to minister to.
Provide the resources for the people in your organization to be creative to their fullest potential as God leads them. Don’t ask them to give God their all and then not give them the resources available to you.
Don’t get angry, upset, annoyed, offended, hassled, inconvenienced, or bothered by God providing you with people, gifts and talents that are outside your comfort zone.
Remind yourself that your personal opinion does not equal God’s will or truth.
Realize that change is not bad.
Are you prayerfully, as a body, working together to follow God’s call?
The solution to this problem is simple, but admittedly one of the hardest things to do. Simply ask yourself, “how have I, through my words or actions, told someone that they can’t give 100% of their gifts to God”. If you can’t find any, look harder, they’re there! Then, as a group, intentionally create an environment where people can give God 100% without fear of being shut down.