I like to describe churches as having three basic ministries. These are:
1. Community Care. Care and development of people within the church family.
2. Church Growth. Activities that would expand the local church family (outside of biological growth I suppose)
3. Missions. Activities that focus on expanding the kingdom of God without necessarily expanding the local church family.
Ideally, these should work together symbiotically. Community care should train people to be involved in church growth and missions. Likewise, community care should make the church family a desirable place to be a part of. Church growth should increase the community and the ability to care for itself, and the pool to draw from for missions work. Missions trains church members for community care and church growth and gives added purpose for the church.
Sadly, they often do not function symbiotically. Sometimes they are at war with each other.
1. Community Care can become the end function of the church. Budgets and manpower are utilized to have great facilities and activities for its members. Resources set up for outreach (either church growth or missions) are deprioritized and reduced.
2. Church Growth can become the primary focus. Members are not taken care of. They may also not be trained for fear that they might leave the church and minister elsewhere. Budgets are centralized on bringing more people in and preventing them from leaving. Missions is seen as pointless since it does not directly benefit the size of the church.
3. While less common, missions can be the central focus. Activities are focused on distant ministries and the church members don’t minister locally, but just pool resources for other people to serve God.
For the ministries of the church to be effective, there must be intentionality in having these work together. Many in Missions and in Church Ministry complain about how few churches are truly “on fire” for ministry or fail to be involved effectively in missions. In fact, however, many church leaders create this environment. They focus on “church leadership,” “church growth,” “closing the back door of the church,” and this develops a certain… well… ecclesiastical selfishness. The members see little value in focusing on God’s Kingdom when everything they are taught focuses on their own little fiefdom.
What would be the best way to get the ministries of the church to work together for the good of the church family, the local community, and world… all three of which are to be important parts of God’s Kindom??
- Ten Myths of Church Growth. (atwistedcrownofthorns.com)