There are two equal, but opposite mistakes we make when it comes to discovering a church’s mission.
First extreme: find out what the cool churches are doing and copy that.
Second extreme: find something no other church is doing and pursue that.
The first extreme is an obvious problem that I wrote about in People Are Leaving for the Cool New Church! Now What?
But the second extreme isn’t as obvious. In fact, you may be thinking, “isn’t that exactly what every church should be doing? Finding something that only we can do, then doing that?”
I don’t think so.
Three Errors Of Chasing Uniqueness
Here are three problems with thinking we have to do something different from other churches in order to fulfill our calling:
First, it’s not biblical.
Nowhere does the Bible even hint at uniqueness as a prerequisite for our calling.
In fact, it could very well be argued (and I have argued) that most of what God wants from each of us is the same for all of us.
Second, it puts an undue burden on leadership.
I’ve seen pastors burn out over the unnecessary pressure to come up with a mission statement, program or approach to ministry that no one else is doing.
Maybe it’s okay if there’s more than one church in town that worships, teaches and ministers the way you do.
Third, it can become about ego.
The push to be unique can easily morph into the need to be noticed, which is more about the church or the pastor than about Jesus.
Doing It Well Is Better Than Doing It Different
So, if having an effective church is not about doing something that no other church can do, what is it about?
It’s about finding something biblical that you do well. Not better than others or different than others.
Just what fits your call, your gifts and your strengths.
If you’re known for strong Bible preaching, but there are already a lot of great Bible preaching churches near you, should you choose something else to be your identifying factor?
No. Preach the Bible.
The same goes if you’re called to feed the poor, reach the youth, mentor leaders, and so on.
More Like Jesus
Stop worrying about what other churches are doing. Or not doing.
Avoid the equally problematic traps of striving to be unique, or being a copycat.
Find what you do well.
Then do that.
If that happens to be different, so be it. If not, that’s okay, too.
Don’t try to be like other churches. Don’t try to not be like other churches.
Be like Jesus.
We always need more of that.
Copyright © 2019 by the author or Christianity Today.
Click here to read our guidelines concerning reprint permissions.