Summary: A fully functioning church is one driven by the five main functions – worship, outreach, fellowship, discipleship, and service.
Rick Warren tells the story of Westside Church’s yearly church council meeting whose sole agenda item was to determine the church program for the next year. Convened by the chairperson, Steve Johnson this is a summary what happened:
“We’ve got a lot to cover tonight, folks, so we’d better get started. As you know, our agenda is to agree on a unified church program for the next year. We’re supposed to present it to the congregation in two weeks.”
As chairman, Steve’s anxiety over this meeting was equaled only by the anxiety he felt when the annual budget was discussed. “Who wants to go first?” asked Steve.
“This ought to be easy,” said Ben Faithful, a deacon who’d been a member for twenty-six years. “Last year was a good year. Let’s just repeat all the good things we did last year. I’ve always believed that the tried and true is better than a lot of newfangled ideas.”
“Well, I’d have to disagree with that,” said Bob Newman. “Times have changed and I think we need to reevaluate everything we’re doing. Just because a program worked in the past doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to continue working next year. I’m especially interested in starting another worship service with a different style. We’ve all seen the growth that Calvary Church has had since they started a contemporary service to reach out to the unchurched.”
“Yes, some churches will do anything to get a crowd, “ replied Ben. “They forget who the church is for: It’s for us Christians! We’re supposed to be different and separate from the world. We’re not to pander to whatever the world wants. I sure don’t intend to see that happen at Westside!”
Over the next two hours, writes Warren, a worthy list of programs and causes was presented for inclusion in the church calendar. Karen Doer passionately insisted that Westside church take a more active role in Operation Rescue and the pro-life movement. John Manly gave a moving testimony about how Promise Keepers had changed his life and suggested a full slate of men’s activities.
Linda Loving spoke of the need to develop various support groups. Bob Learner made his usual pitch for the church to begin a Christian school. And, of course, Jerry Tightwad kept asking, “How much will it all cost?” as each proposal was presented.
They were all valid suggestions, says Warren. The problem was there seemed to be no standard of reference by which the council could evaluate and decide which programs would be adopted.
Finally Clark Reasoner spoke up. Clark was the voice everyone was waiting for at this point. Whenever issues became confused at church business meetings, he’d usually make a short speech, and a majority would vote his way. It wasn’t that his ideas were better; in fact, people often disagreed with him. But the sheer force of his personality made whatever he said seem sensible at the time.
What is the problem with this scenario? asks Warren. This church is trying to head in several different directions all at once. “Every church,” he notes, “is driven by something. There is a guidance force, a controlling assumption, a directing conviction behind everything that happens.”
I ask us this morning, “What is God’s controlling assumption for our church? What is it that He wants? What is it that He expects?”
We are entering the second part of a series on God’s vision for the church: “A fully following and faithfully functioning church.” (Overhead 1)
Last month, we addressed the first part of this vision – the fully following part. And, for the sake of review, we looked at the lives of 10 Bible characters that demonstrated what it means to be full followers of God. (Overhead 2) Today, we begin the second half of our study: the faithfully functioning part.
The first part of our series dealt with the inner aspects of God’s vision for us. It dealt with our character and our commitment. The being part if you will. In other words, when we accept Christ as our savior and ask for and receive His forgiveness, it means that our character must change to become more and more like Christ’s.
This part of our series deals with the doing aspect of God’s vision. God has saved us not only from something – namely sin and eternal death but also for something – a mission, a ministry, and a task that is not only specific but also multi-purposed. So in this second segment, we are going to review these main purposes, these main functions that God expects every believer and every church to fulfill.
Now, let’s return to Westside church for a moment. Can you relate to their situation? Can you feel their frustration? Does it sound familiar?
What drives a church to do what it does? What drives this church to do what it does?