Too many church leaders spend unnecessary time on a stack of things that aren’t essential for an effective church.
But what are the essentials?
Good news. I’ve found the definitive list and today I’m going to share it with you.
But first, a few things that aren’t on the list.
- A church doesn’t need to be big to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need to be small to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need a mission statement to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need a choir or worship team to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need suits and dresses to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need to dress casually to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need small groups to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need a website to be effective.
- A church doesn’t need a building to be effective.
- A church doesn’t even need a pastor to be effective. (A shout-out to all my house church peeps!)
Our Priorities Matter
None of those things are wrong. Many of them can make a good ministry better. The church I pastor has or does seven of the ten.
But they’re not essential.
When we think any extra-biblical element is essential, it becomes divisive. Our way is right and other ways are wrong.
Then we start obsessing over them.
Wasting time, money and emotion on them.
Arguing over them.
Alienating ourselves from other believers because of them.
And ignoring real needs because of our obsession with non-essentials.
What Are the Essentials?
There are only three essential elements for a church to be effective:
1. People who genuinely love Jesus
2. People who genuinely love each other
3. People who share that good news with others
No, that’s not a new list. If it was, they wouldn’t be essential. They’re a simple restatement of Jesus’ Great Commandment and Great Commission to love the Lord with all our heart, love our neighbor as ourself, and go make disciples.
Jesus said these are the essentials.
Anything less isn’t church.
Anything more is personal preference.
The Personal Preference Problem
No personal preference is worse than any other – unless it draws people away from any of those essentials.
No personal preference is better than any other – except to the person whose faith is strengthened by it.
The problem with our personal preferences is that we really do prefer them. Sometime we prefer them over the actual essentials.
It’s too easy to allow non-essential preferences to take over our lives, churches and ministries. The danger isn’t that we’ll fail, but that we’ll do the non-essentials so well that we’ll accept them as a substitute for truly effective ministry.
Perhaps the #1 job of a church leader is not to let our guard down in the relentless battle to keep the non-essentials from crowding out the essentials.
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