Four years ago I began to get discouraged because I sensed God changing me. During this time I noticed my focus changing and I became concerned about reaching people that we were not having success reaching.
The more my desire changed, the more frustrated I would become. I began to want something that I wasn’t in position to make happen. God was changing my heart and I honestly thought He wanted me to live out that change in my church.
So the changes came.
Some were great for the church and some were not as beloved. It was frustrating because I KNEW these were good changes.What I didn’t understand was that God was doing a work of preparation, grooming me for my future while I was becoming frustrated in my NOW.
I am still totally convinced that what I did wasn’t wrong; a lot of people gave their lives to Jesus during that time; it just wasn’t a good fit for the situation that I was in and some people just didn’t “get” the vision.
I talk to a lot of Pastors (and lay leaders) who are frustrated that they can’t steer the church they lead in the direction that they feel like God is leading them. Because of all I’ve been through, I find myself thinking “Maybe God isn’t trying to change your church. Maybe God is trying to change you.”
Want a Taco with that Frosty?
In the late 80′s Wendy’s used to have an all-you-can-eat taco bar? Frosty’s, chili and chicken sandwiches are awesome – tacos, noodles with meat sauce and chocolate pudding out of a can not so much. It was also during this season that Burger King experimented being a sit down restaurant at night. In my local BK they would make you sit down after you ordered and a waiter would bring your Whopper and fries to your table. Chances are you don’t remember either of these instances because they both failed… they were trying to be something they weren’t and it didn’t work out.
Churches often think that a music change, a visual update or a younger pastor will change their situation but the truth is, before you have true change in a church God must bring true change to people’s hearts. Don’t add the taco bar (or the contemporary service at 8:30 am – the people we should be trying to reach usually don’t visit churches at 8:30 am).
If you are in a church and find yourself being challenged by God (not to mention frustrated in your situation) I would advise you lead your church leadership to find out who they are – be the best at doing that kind of church that you can possibly be. You can bring new life to a service without changing the whole church.
I always make these suggestions to churches that want to improve their services:
Pick songs that actually go with sermons/topics rather than just picking popular or congregational favorites.
Dead time can kill the flow of the service. If you have a special does the singer wait to be introduced then get up from the seat and walk to the platform while everyone in the church watches? You’re wasting time and making the service awkward. Tell the singer when to come and have them in place for the introduction if you do this sort of thing. You will be amazed at how much better service flow is. If you practice this with all transitions your service will improve!
First impressions do not begin with the call to worship (or whatever you may call your first song). First impressions begin the moment people drive into your parking lot. Putting friendly people in the parking lot as greeters can improve people’s impression of your overall service. Teach people to expect visitors and to truly be welcoming when they arrive and to take people where they need to go rather than point.
Jesus deserves our best and more! When we take the quality of services up people can actually be excited enough to invite someone. Don’t we all want that?
In the end you may still find that God has been preparing you to leave and that much of this work was in preparation for the next. If that’s the case, rejoice!! You’re a work in progress and God’s church is better because you were a part of it.
But whatever you do don’t add the taco bar – it’s not who you are. Be who you are.