I have discovered three principles and three imperatives I believe all churches should examine and apply. The first principle is this: clear, biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality. And the imperative? Think spiritually!
However well-organized our churches become; we must give priority to biblical rather than to secular thinking. In the first-century church, there were no secular organizational structures or church politics. There was no guru of authority or “chairman” of anything. There were no power grabs from control freaks. There were no personal maneuverings, infightings, financial squabbles, or turf protection. Instead, it was a place where a spiritual emphasis took precedence over the world’s way of doing things.
Here’s what this looks like when it’s applied.
Applying Biblical Thinking:
What does this look like when applied today? For starters:
§ Our teaching needs to be biblically based and spiritually inclined.
§ Our Sunday school classes, adult fellowships, and small-group instruction gatherings need to center on the teaching of the Bible and spiritual lessons.
§ Our songs and our hymns should have spiritual content.
§ Our counseling ministry needs to be derived from the Spirit’s revelation in the Scriptures.
§ Our relationships with one another need to have spiritual priorities—intimate fellowship where people can trust one another.
The church ought to be the one place where spiritual thinking overrides everything else—all those battles we fight within the marketplace. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. The church is a spiritual entity.
Where Decisions Begin:
Second, studied, accurate decisions must originate from God’s Word, not human opinions. A true, spiritual mind-set comes from meditation on the Scriptures. So, the imperative would be: stay biblical!
The Word of God ought to be central to every worship service on Sunday. Furthermore, every elders meeting and every staff meeting should have the Scriptures as the basis of the decisions that are made. God’s Word is to be the church’s guide; it shapes our current thinking and future planning by giving us principles we can understand, believe, and apply.
I love the words of A. W. Tozer:
The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God—not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice.
As those in the church who follow Christ as our Head, our words must come from the Living God and not be an echo of human words or works . . . certainly not the words from our culture! As wise and intelligent as human opinions are, the church isn’t guided by the thinking of any fallen human being. (By the way, that includes the pastor!) Christ is the Head. Our thinking is shaped by a study of Scriptures—by God’s thinking. This is about building the church God’s way—and God’s way is found in God’s Word. Nowhere else can we find such an authentic voice.
A church that is working is a church that is growing. I believe that. But be careful of the order of that statement, because a church that is growing is not necessarily a church that is working.
What it Takes to Counteract Erosion
The third principle and imperative is this: Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion. Please notice I did not use the word “easy.” Change is not easy when erosion has occurred—but it is essential. The imperative? Be flexible!
Be ready and willing to make some changes—essential changes—especially if you hope to arrest the slow, silent, subtle slide of erosion. And stand alone through those changes, if necessary. The poet and artist E. E. Cummings wrote:
To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
As a pastor, you may find yourself standing alone against erosion in your church. If so, I commend you. And believe me, that isn’t an easy place to be. When I realized the erosion that had already begun to occur in our church years ago . . . when I realized how far we had drifted from God’s original, simple plan, I prayed: “Almighty God, give us that original vision again. Give me the courage to lead this flock back to the essentials. Make it happen again!” And He has begun to do so. It’s been marvelous!
But it has not been easy.
What Course Correction Requires
Course correction requires changes. It demands a devotion to the essentials of a church as modeled by the early church. Here they are:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
It isn’t enough simply to have the essentials in our churches. We must continually devote ourselves to them. In the original language, that phrase translates a single Greek term that means: “to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of [doing so] despite difficulty.”
Will there be difficulty? Absolutely! Open your New Testament and revisit the early church. Just look at any church! The Adversary will stop at nothing to overcome the work of Christ.
You can count on it.
1A. W. Tozer, Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church (Camp Hill, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1992), 178.
1E. E. Cummings, as quoted by Ted Goodman in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations: 10,000 Thoughts on the Business of Life (New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007), 553.
Reprint: The Pastors Blog - Chuck Swindoll