What drives your church?

The questions we are asking and answering reveal what we are really about.

All of us, individuals and congregations, are answering a set of questions through how we live.

When it comes to church, there are driving questions behind and underneath every lay leadership team meeting, every staff meeting, every committee or team meeting – behind everything we do. This question set drives the agenda.

Below are two question sets.

The Modern-Era (1517-2000) questions reflect a church in the U.S. who enjoyed majority status in its culture while organizing itself like the majority of organizations in its culture:

  • What does it mean to be a good church member?
  • What is our church doing to attract more people to our church campus for worship and events?
  • How can we train members to make church the center of their lives, participating in church activities at higher levels?
  • What does it mean to be Christ-followers in a culture wherein we enjoy majority status and high regard?
  • How can we build more/larger buildings or at least improve what we have?
  • How do we get more members to volunteer to serve on committees, teams or in our church organization?
  • How are we shaped by the gospel in our private lives in ways which reflect the spirit of Jesus?
  • How well are we equipping members to make short-term forays out into the larger culture to do good and win souls?

The Postmodern-Era (2001 to the present) questions reflect a church losing its cultural status, having to revise its self-understanding resulting in a return to a movement mentality (see first century), potentially with great invigoration and vitality:

  • What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ now, in this culture and story wherein we find ourselves?
  • How can we liberate disciples from the church campus to more fully join God’s movement in our community?
  • How can our church shift the center of our activity and engagement to our community wherein God’s actively bringing the kingdom to earth?
  • What does it mean to be Christ-followers in a culture wherein we are the minority, finding ourselves culturally suspect by the larger community?
  • How do we streamline our organization so that we free up time and energy of disciples to love (or even know) their neighbors?
  • How much do we believe the gospel is actually meant to change the nature of human relationships and social systems? How much do we believe integrating the teachings of Jesus is the world’s best hope?
  • How well are we equipping disciples to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) every day as they go about their lives?

Though no church is purely one or the other, I wonder which question set tends to drive your church.

Postmodern people, it seems, tend to question everything. Because there are so many competing stories, each claiming to be the most helpful worldview, postmodern people vigorously question most assumptions.

You might notice the postmodern questions above are more foundational, more focused on God’s movement and power than on running an organization.

So, here’s the danger for churches – energetically answering questions few people are asking while missing the more foundational spiritual questions our world is desperately asking.

Given the world’s need and the significance of our calling, that’s a danger we have to avoid.

Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates. A version of this article first appeared on Pinnacle’s blog and is used with permission. His writings can also be found on his personal blog.

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