Recently my network worked our way through the book ‘If Jesus Were Mayor’ by Bob Moffitt and Karla Tesch. The premise of the book is fairly straightforward. The big idea is that God is in the process of restoring all things to Himself and since that is His agenda, He asks His people (the church) to join Him in this effort. As the church, we are asked to move beyond our walls and do what we can to meet the physical, social, spiritual needs of our communities – specifically through intentional acts of service and by doing all we can to put God’s love on display for all people to see and experience. It sounds a little like “Taking responsibility for our communities.”
Obviously there is a lot to unpack on a topic like this, but as part of my accountability to my network in responding to what we are learning together, I decided to put together a list of questions for the local church to begin to examine how they are doing in this very vital area. The point of these questions is to help leaders, boards and ministry teams think through what they are doing and how they are doing. These questions will not provide all the answers, but hopefully they will be helpful in thinking, praying following through on these things that God invites us to join Him in.
So yes, I am doing this as part of a network assignment, but I am also doing it because I think these are important conversations every church needs to be engaged in. So here we go. As you work through these imagine there being a line and a ten point scale (maybe even draw them out for yourself).
1. The idea of God reconciling all things to Himself and asking the church to join Him and the need for the church to tangibly love and meet needs around them – How often do these themes show up in our preaching and teaching ministries?
1= Not at all. We never talk about that stuff – 10 = They are regular themes in our preaching schedule and part of what each small group works through.
(Then ask yourself – especially if you are 5 or under – “How will we get better at this? What steps can we take?” This could include educating yourself on these themes and/or your communities)
2. These ideas and themes – Are they a regular part of our putting together a ministry plan?
1= We do not consider them at all when we put together a ministry plan – 10 = They are regularly considered and a response is planned for.
(Again, the follow up question is “How can we improve on this?” Step one might be putting together a ministry plan).
3. We regularly evaluate our ministries that respond to these areas and needs.
1 = We never evaluate anything – 10 = We regularly evaluate every area of ministry including these ones.
(How can we improve on this?)
4. As we take responsibility for our communities, we strike a balance between a corporate response and each member living out these priorities in their neighborhoods.
1 = It’s all corporate or it’s all individual when it comes to response – 10 = We have a balance between corporate responses to meeting needs and the majority of our members (over 50%) are also involved in individually living this out.
(Getting better at this might involve formulating a corporate response but it may also involve becoming aware of what folks in the church are doing)
5. We regularly celebrate what God is doing in us, around us and through us as we take responsibility for our communities.
1 = We don’t celebrate anything – 10 = We find appropriate ways and venues to tell stories and celebrate the opportunities God provides and people’s response to those opportunities.
(What would appropriate celebration look like?)
6. As we join God in His agenda, we find ways for people to respond through both giving and service.
1 = We only give people a chance to give – 10 = People give generously when appropriate but also understand that joining God in this requires their time and service.
(How is this reflected in our teaching, planning and modeling of this?)
7. Our prayer times (individual and corporate) reflect God’s priorities in these areas.
1 = We only pray for church stuff – 10 = We pray regularly for needs both inside and outside the church.
(How are we going to get better at this?)
There you go. Seven questions. I hope they are helpful. This seems like the type of stuff healthy churches talk about.
Leadership Development Director, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.