Having led churches, planted churches and worked as an evangelist/strategist supporting churches since the mid 90s, I’ve started to notice some fairly obvious signs that inform me as to whether a church is a lean mean mission machine or a spiritual couch potato. In a nutshell, is your church more concerned with stuffing its own face than getting out there? Here are some straightforward points to chew on:
What are people getting hot under the collar and wound up about in church members’ meetings? Is it stuff like the church building, finances, constitution, budgets? If yes, then your church is a couch potato.
By contrast, when was the last time people got wound up in a meeting because not enough people were meeting Jesus or that the needs of the poorest in the community were not being met?
How is commitment as a follower of Jesus measured? Is it by attendance at some kind of church meeting or is it whether that person is living for Christ in their daily sphere of influence?
What sorts of testimonies are shared at the front, if any? Do they speak of living for Jesus in the rough and tumble of everyday living? Who are considered to be the missionaries? If your church has a missionary board that defines mission as ‘out in some remote place somewhere’, then most likely it’s not educating people or celebrating the fact that they are on mission where they live and work. (Burn those boards and destroy them without mercy).
Who does the church pray for and who makes it onto the prayer list? If it’s mostly the clergy and the sick then something’s wrong.
If you do make it onto the prayer list because you are speaking at a drop-in meeting or daytime Bible study but never get prayed for regarding your working life, then that’s a sign that the church is in a bubble.
If the church does pray for those in the workplace but it’s normally people in the caring professions, then it’s defining the more caring professions as ‘Christian’. What’s that all about? When was the last time the church prayed for van drivers and accountants etc? In other words, is the church asking for and accepting the workforce’s money but hardly ever praying for them? What percentage does your church give to ‘mission’?
Couch potato churches give a strict ten per cent or under to tick a box. If you argue that your own structures are about mission, then do some honest analysis of who the activities are reaching and serving. Who is commissioned and ordained into service for Jesus? The pastors? Or everyone, wherever they are? Do we commission people whenever there’s a job change or ordain people as Jesus’ ambassadors from the school gate to the factory floor?
Does the church employ an evangelism equipper and enabler? If you don’t have a resident evangelist in the congregation, you should strongly consider partnering with an Elim evangelist who can journey with you.
The ‘Turning Inside Out’ initiative which REACH is running is an obvious way to go.
What proportion of money is spent on sound and visuals as opposed to local evangelism? There’s nothing wrong with having a decent PA system and for things to look good when we gather for meetings and services, but it’s a waste of time and money if we are the best-kept secret in town and all we end up doing is entertaining ourselves to death.