Today, we continue walking through the five questions every local church needs to be asking to bring new energy and life to their congregation.
Our first question—How do we engage new people?—helps us see the critical need to develop specific strategic steps for connecting with people throughout our community. There simply can be no new day at your church without some new life!
Our second question occupied us for several blogs—How will we treat them when they walk through our doors? As we said, it would be tragic to work hard to connect with someone only to drop the ball when they visited our church. Effective hospitality and assimilation strategies are some of the most critical elements of a church health plan.
Next, we tackled–How will we teach them how to follow Jesus? Here, we looked at both the content and the settings where discipleship teaching is delivered. You must have a plan for people to engage, and then, of course, you’ll need to encourage them to engage that plan.
Our fourth question asked, How will we help them find a place to serve? Here, we worked our way through helping people find their gifts and find a place to use them, how we will go about training them and providing the evaluation that can help people find real success and satisfaction in their ministry efforts. And, we made a final stop considering what it’s like to be on the team–a discussion that focused on how we are investing in them and their ministry experience.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve engaged our final question, How will we help them connect with God? by looking at some of the essential steps for pursuing God–to stop pursuing everything else through solitude and Sabbath, connect with what God has already spoken through Bible reading and reflection, and learn to listen to God as He is the Initiator of all true spiritual connection.
No discussion of connecting with God would be complete without considering the priority of obedience. In truth, we demonstrate a relationship with God by seeking to follow Him–His words, His example, and His purpose.
In the Western world, there seems to be an enormous temptation to view a relationship with God as an enhancement of our current life. We want God to “be with us” (a common prayer statement) and to “help us” in the things we are doing, both for Him and for ourselves. We seek after His presence and look to be charged up with His power so that we can go do what we think He wants us to do.
Now, all such focus seems good on the surface, but none of the above really looks like we are following anyone or anything but our own ideas and agenda. Yes, it’s good when people let God rewrite their sense of purpose, but we’re still several steps from the idea of truly being His follower.
To follow means to travel with someone in the secondary position. The One we follow chooses direction, destinations, and routes to get there. We simply follow. He shows the way, the necessary steps, and then we submissively take them. And the whole time, we rejoice in the fact that we are waling such roads with Him!
Far too many Christians find their spiritual life effort to be exhausting. They’re overworked, overcommitted, and stretched beyond reasonable strength. All the “doing” has them just about “done.” Doesn’t it make sense that following would be less stressful than striving? Maybe instead of being in the second chair, we’re still trying to prove our worth to the One we’re performing for.
A real connection with God brings peace, joy, faith, and a half-dozen other wonderful expressions of spiritual fruit. If all of our effort isn’t revealing such things, maybe we’re straining toward the wrong destination.
If we’re going to help people truly connect with God, we must consider how we paint the picture of such a relationship. Are we helping them walk with God or just showing them how to stay busy between His visits? Jesus said that He came to bring a more abundant kind of life, and He wasn’t talking about more stuff or greater successes in what we do. Instead, His focus was on helping us find the journey we were truly made for.
Have you found that? Search for it with all your heart, both for yourself and for all those who are looking to you to show them the path.