Every mature Christian and every church leader I have ever met deeply desires to have Gospel impact in their community. But, there are often obstacles or roadblocks that prevent Christians and churches from reaching their full ministry potential. In this episode, Peter Joudry and Josh Hershberger discuss three common obstacles to outward focus and tips on how to overcome them:
Obstacle #1 The Me Mentality
For many people, Church is about their program, their needs and their preferences. But (and this applies to church leaders as well), Church isn’t about us. It is about the Gospel (Mark 16:15). The most important question is this: “How can this group of people in this location with these resources most effectively do their part in fulfilling the Great Commission?”
Many church leaders I meet are deeply frustrated by the me mentality. In some churches, the inertia or momentum is going the wrong way. The influence of a “me-centric” culture and the forces of a changing society are pushing Christians to confine their faith to their homes, hearts, pew and pulpits. Many church leaders are fighting these forces courageously, but such a fight is spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting.
Despite these trends, Church leaders and mature Christians are responsible for the culture of their Church (Hebrews 13:17). As difficult as it is, we must ask the following question:
Are you changing your church culture, or is it changing you?
Peter Joudry and I discuss three strategies for overcoming the “me mentality”:
- Emphasize the Gospel
- Celebrate Outward Focus
- Exemplify Outward Focus
Obstacle #2 The Money Monster
Every organization faces the constant demand for financial resources, but some churches have a Scrooge-like culture surrounding the subject of money. The pastor should not talk about money, and the members do not want to be pressured to give more than is comfortable. This misses the fact that our money belongs to God and that we simply steward these resources for Him (Psalm 24: 1-2; I Cor. 4:2). So, how can church leaders prayerfully work to develop a culture of generosity?
- Leaders should preach about financial stewardship when they are not making a big push for financial resources
- Leaders should strategically schedule a few times a year to make a big push for increased giving
- Leaders should celebrate generosity (Peter adds that people give to vision, value and victory)
I (Josh) work with many nonprofits (religious and secular), and churches often do a poor job of donor contact and donor appreciation compared to the general nonprofit sector. If your church is miserly (where else can I use that awesome word?), God has called you to try to change it. The point here is to develop people in the church and, ultimately, a church that loves giving and sees it as an act of worship. For more information on developing a culture of generosity, see the “Bold Church” ebook download available on our home page.
Obstacle #3 The Mistake Mistake
Don’t make the mistake of being afraid to make a mistake. Many creatives talk about the concept of “minimally viable product.” The concept is as follows: do not wait until your program or idea is perfect because the opportunity will pass you by. That said, we strive for excellence. This is a tension to be managed as churches and Christians become more outward focused/ community minded. As George Shaffer said in a prior episode, “I would rather be 80% right than 100% late.” The bottom line is to try something! Do not let perfection be the enemy of production. Don’t make the mistake mistake.
In summary, overcoming the obstacles to outward focus is hard work, and some churches may refuse to change. But, this is a critical task for a critical time.
What are some obstacles to outward focus that you have noticed/experienced?