3. Change the way you keep score.
For years, our church defined success by the strength of our programs and the increase in our numbers. After my meeting with the mayor, we began to think differently.
We redefined success as helping any of the gatekeepers—organizations working to meet the needs in the community—accomplish their goals, whether we got any notice or not.
We gradually shifted our vision from the success of our church to the crying needs of people around us. If we can help feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, mentor kids, give blood and dozens of other worthwhile functions, we are fulfilling God’s calling in Isaiah 61 and Luke 4.
We wanted to be like Jesus and serve with no strings attached.
4. Change the way you do community outreach.
As God changed our thinking, praying and score keeping, we realized that we’d been misusing a term since our church began. We talked about “community outreach,” but in practice, it meant inviting people to come to our church. We began to see that true community outreach means going to them, not insisting they come to us.
Jesus, of course, is the ultimate example of this.
5. Change the way you teach about giving.
Too often in the past, we had three-week series on stewardship or tithing, which gave us a quick burst in giving, but was never sustained. There wasn’t anything wrong with the content of those messages, but when people found out about my sermon topic, they seemed to plan their vacations for those weeks!
As we changed the identity of our church, I became committed to changing our sense of “normal giving.”
This included, among other things, talking about how we don’t give out of obligation, but because our hearts are gripped with all God has done for us; and we don’t give when the mood strikes, but in a careful and planned way.
Ultimately, this is a huge topic, and hard to cover in a 700-word blog post, but one more churches should be thinking about and discussing.