Keeping Things Simple

 In Jason Bunger

Each year, I ask our staff members to fill out a questionnaire as part of their annual review. One of the questions on the review asks, “What are you scared Jason will do this year?”  Interestingly, without talking to each other, they answered in this same way. “I am scared that Jason will read another book. :-)”

If you have ever been to a Christian bookstore, read the Dayton Daily News or get the promotional material for any upcoming ministry conference, you will be overwhelmed by experts telling you how to “be the church,” “get out of the box” or “initiate in the kingdom of God.”  After all they say, “If we could just get out of our four walls and…then we could reach the next generation.”  I am genuinely grateful of these leaders and pastors. They indeed make the world better. 

However, our staff realizes that the inspiration and conviction contained in these resources, in addition to a little caffeine, can cause us to become somewhat unfocused and reinvent ourselves every year. We tell ourselves in an effort to be successful:  “Whatever, we were doing it in the past is all wrong. We are in a new day now.”   

At the risk of sounding uninspiring, I have come to the conclusion that we don’t need to constantly reinvent ourselves. We simply need to do the right things regularly with intentionality and excellence. I realize that in order to grow in Christ, and be an effective church, we really just need to focus on three simple things.  They are encounter God in worship, engage with one another in community and be equipped to serve in a meaningful way.  Let’s take a look at each of these. 

Encounter God in Worship

Corporate worship is central to the life of a Christian. In each of our hour-long services, we simply intend to do adore God in worship, speak to God in prayer and hear from God through Biblical preaching. These have been the foundation of worship gatherings since the time of Christ and the three things that the church, and only the church, can offer to our world.

The gathering of God’s people on Sunday is central to the life of a Christian. It is the day that is set aside in our calendar to proclaim the Lord’s coming and to encourage one another.  Quite simply if you are Christian, and you are reading this, you are missed when you are not in worship.  Your absence is felt.  I don’t mean this to sound judgmental, for it is not.  I simply mean that every week, someone in your church thinks.  “You know, worship was great this morning, but it would have been better if you were here with us.”  I think this is why the writer of Hebrews says that we should “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Engage with one another in community groups

I am convinced that people grow most in the context of community.  We grow when we interact with God’s word and our lives intersect with each other.  We share our knowledge (and ignorance) of God’s word with each other.  We learn from the experiences and encouragement of one another. This is why we have community groups that meet to study the Bible, pray for one another, serve together, do fun activities and support missions. 

What makes our Community Groups unique is that they are foundational to much of our outreach ministry.  Here is why:  If Hope Church decides to go on a far away mission trip, we will have five to six people sign up to go.  If we decide to go serve in another part of town, we will have the same five to six people go.  If we ran a weekly outreach out of the church for children, seniors or whoever, guess how many people would be serving?  You got it.  Five to six people would be serving. And it is the same five to six people that are serving in the other areas.  So not only do we only have five to six people serving, they probably are tired, probably serving in an area that is not their passion, and doing something that they may are not be all that good at in the first place. 

However, we ask each of our community groups to pray about and to find a ministry that they are passionate about serving together. Then, they take on that mission as a group.  So instead of five to six people serving everywhere, we now have a dozen groups of eight to 12 people that are serving in an area that they like to serve with people they love to be around.  We encourage these groups to partner with ministries that are already effectively specializing in serving our community and world with the gospel.  We feel we most effectively serve the poor, the outcast and the marginalized when we serve with the people we love and are growing deeper alongside.             

Equip others to serve in a strategic area of ministry

Finally, we are convinced that each of us should use our gifts and passions to regularly serve one another.  These areas of service are the consistent, regular opportunities to serve the life of our ministry.  They may include (but are not limited to): worship, hospitality, communications, community groups, facilities enhancement, children/youth and administration. 

One of my greatest joys is to regularly teach a seminar called “Ministry By Strengths.”  This is one of my favorite classes because nearly everyone in the class discovers how God has uniquely created them to serve in an area they genuinely enjoy. And when we are serving in our area of giftedness, we are doing what is natural and enjoyable.  What others may consider a chore, we view as a genuine privilege. 

I would love to hear from you

What do you think a church needs to be doing?

How does a church determine the difference between what we could do, should do or must do? 


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