article recently where the author is talking about how to make users
of your product or service happy. The basic premise of the article is
that you should make the right things easy and the
wrong things hard.
A great illustration of this is a three pronged electrical plug. There is
only one way that the plug can go into the wall safely, and the plug is
designed in such a way that the safe way to plug it in is the only
way to plug it in. In that case, the “right” thing is also the “easy”
However, the author also describes that car dashboards, being long and
flat, are designed to make the wrong thing easy-putting stuff on them. In
an accident, all those things put on dashboards become projectiles ready
to wound anyone in their path not to mention the visibility problems and
distraction problems of things moving around on that dashboard!
I guess the question for church leadership is how to make the right
What are the right things?
Despite the popular demands for customized programs and the innumerable
things that churches could be doing, there really are only a few things
that churches should be doing. Here is my (non-exhaustive) list:
- Spurring people on toward a deeper walk with God.
- Teaching and coaching people to understand and take their next steps
- Putting people into healthy, loving, supportive relationships.
- Commissioning people into ministry to a lost and dying world.
From the standpoint of an individual in the church, the right things
- A deep walk with God
- Taking next steps of understanding and faith
- Supportive, loving relationships
Make them easy
So if those are the right things to be doing, how can we make them
Well, churches have for many years been making these very things the most
difficult things to be doing. We have had services of worship that are
based on following traditions more than on helping people to go deeper
with God. We have had classes that focus on learning some truth rather
than changing our lives. We have had programs that put people in
antagonistic relationships (volunteer committees to name but one), and we
have put high restrictions on who is qualified to be in
To make these easy, I suggest these things.
Make worship accessible.
the church needs to focus on making worship accessible to people (service
times, styles, locations, etc.) so that everyone can have an experience
that helps them go deeper with God while at the same time making the
practice of personal devotions easier (I’m still working on that). Now,
of course that means that services can’t be all fluff and feel good
stuff. They have to really take people to the deeper realities both
emotionally and intellectually to see the truth of who God really
Make loving relationships cultural.
Churches talk about small groups and whatnot being a part of what they do
as a church. However, small groups don’t work unless they are part of the
underlying culture of the church. Something cultural is something that
everyone knows is expected of them and they are fine with it. It’s
cultural in Brazil for people to speak Portuguese. People in Brazil
expect that other people will speak their language and people who live
there are okay with that.
The thing is that we Christians in North America have lost the sense that
relationships are part of our culture. It isn’t expected of us that we
will have strong relationships with other believers. What is expected in
many cases is that the pastor will meet our needs if we have them
or that the church’s benevolent fund will come to our rescue if
I advocate churches that require small group relationships instead of
“membership.” In fact, I advocate a church whose membership consists
entirely and only of those who are in a small group of some
Make change fun.
At the core of Christianity is the concept of “conversion” or being “born
again.” In other words, the fundamental starting point for any individual
believer is radical life change. Beyond that, the Bible consistently
stresses that believers are in a process of continual change to become
more and more like Jesus all the time.
Why is it, then, that the single most unchanging organization in the
world is the church? I’m serious; there are churches that have traditions
going back to the dark ages! Literally. If we are to be people undergoing
constant change, then why can’t we be part of an organization that is
undergoing constant change? Because change is threatening for most of us.
In response, I think we need to change our attitude toward change. We
need to make change fun. Why can’t we rejoice with every change that
Now, I know that for spiritual growth, there needs to be some kind of
stability in our lives and especially in our churches, but that doesn’t
mean we can’t have parties now and then. I think the church should throw
a party every time something changes.
I recently heard of a church where every time the pastor finishes a
series of messages, they throw a party to celebrate the completion of
that season of learning!
Make ministry earth-shattering.
Aha! You thought I was going to say something like make ministry
available to everyone, huh? Yeah, many churches have limited ministry to
the seminary trained elite or others who have a specific skill set, but
the solution isn’t simply to open up ministry to everyone.
To open up ministry to everyone does nothing more than cheapen what
ministry is all about. Instead, we need to propel ministry into the
position of being absolutely essential to the church. And to do that, we
need to talk about the real, big ministries of the church not the little
tiny ministries of the church.
If your church has a sound team, don’t talk about working on the sound
team. Instead, talk about the incredible impact the worship service has
on people’s hearts and lives and then mention that people who are
interested in sound equipment can serve on the worship sound team or
something like that.
People need to hear that they can make an eternal
difference in someone’s life.
Perhaps there is nothing as important as simply helping people to realize
that they themselves are as qualified as they need to be to share the
truth of Jesus with others they know. A couple weeks ago, I taught my
congregation that Jesus plants a seed in our hearts that he wants to grow
and produce fruit, and though we often think it is our job to produce
fruit, we need to realize that the fruit of our lives is really found in
the spreading of the seed to others. The bottom line is that we need to
take the seed Jesus gave us and pass that to others.
How did Jesus save you? That’s the gospel that someone needs to hear. You
don’t have to take them through a tract or something artificial, you only
need to tell them how Jesus saved you!
We can allow ourselves to get distracted by many things, but at the end
of the day, there are only a few things that Jesus has called the church
to be doing. As church leaders, we can lead and make decisions that make
those things natural and easy for those in our churches. If we do that
well, we won’t just have happy “customers” we will have a church that
consistently brings greater glory to God as people get closer to him, get
closer to each other, take steps of personal growth, and minister to