I’m convinced that the reason we do not always see this power in our churches today is because we tend to focus more on programs and action items than we do on seeking God’s power. It has been said, “If you can fully explain the ministry of a church, something is wrong.”
M.E.T.R.O. we can work our hardest to try to make our church successful, but our best efforts won’t lead anywhere if we’re not leading the church where the Holy Spirit wants it to go. The Spirit has a particular mission for our church, and it’s only when we discover and follow it that our church can grow the way God intends.
The number 28 in the Bible means to be led by the Spirit’s power and energy. Here’s how we can let the Holy Spirit to led M.E.T.R.O. into its future:
FOCUS ON GOD’S PLANS RATHER THAN OUR OWN.
Recognize that our church should be a vital part of God’s ongoing work in the world. Don’t waste time or energy pursuing activities that, while well, aren’t clearly what God is leading our church to do. M.E.T.R.O. must always start with an awareness of God’s redemptive work in the world; then consider how He might want our church to be a part of that. She must ask two key questions: “What is God doing?” and “What does God want to do?”
She must never let her church’s functions become ends in themselves. Remember that like other congregations she is ultimately created by the Spirit, and her purpose is to engage the world in bringing God’s redemptive work in Christ to bear on every dimension of life.
UNDERSTAND THE SPIRIT’S MINISTRY.
Get to know the different ways the Holy Spirit works in the Bible, such as:
- Demonstrating God’s creative power,
- Affirming God’s intention for His creation that all life might flourish,
- Confronting principalities and powers and restraining evil,
- Reconnecting people and restoring community by helping them clearly understand their identity as God’s people,
- Empowering people with gifts and abilities,
- Empowering leadership to guide faith communities into redemptive action,
- Extending mercy and establishing justice, and engaging the world.
Realize that the context in which our church performs its ministry is constantly changing. Rather than resisting change, accept and expect it. M.E.T.R.O. should constantly seek the Spirit’s guidance to adapt well to the changes our church encounters. Know that a healthy church will always be reforming. Anticipate new insights into the Gospel, and expect that the people she reaches with the Gospel will change our church after they join, making the congregation constantly dynamic. Expect surprises, interruptions, and disruptions as the Spirit works in your midst, but remember that the ultimate result will always be good – lives transformed for the better.
LEARN HOW TO READ YOUR CHURCH’S CURRENT CONTEXT WELL.
Obtain information about the community in which our church ministers, such as: population trends, demographic profiles, transportation patterns, where members live, and other organizations that serve the community, and business development and employment. As we consider this information, ask what God is currently doing and what He may want to do in these situations.
GIVE UP ANY ONE-SIZE-FITS ALL APPROACH TO MINISTRY.
Know that there’s no one type of program, confession, or organization that will work well for all churches. Instead of trying to do what’s worked for other churches, ask what approach God wants our church to take, and don’t be afraid of being different.
SEEK THE DISCERNMENT YOU NEED TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS.
When facing decisions, consider: The Bible and other texts such as devotional writings, the cultural context of our situation, the community within our church, and the practices our congregation shares. Encourage open, fair, engaging, and deliberative discussions among the people in our church. Respect the different perspectives and gifts of each person, and unmask sin such as hidden agendas and power plays. Pray for the Spirit to help us all come to a common understanding of God’s will in each situation, so we can make strategic choices to implement that will. Keep people clearly and regularly informed of what’s happening, support the implementation process in prayer, and ask for feedback so we’ll know when adjustments are necessary. Afterward, assess what did and didn’t work and learn from the experience.
ORGANIZE YOUR CHURCH ACCORDING TO HOW THE SPIRIT LEADS.
Design our church building and the way we use our space to reflect the ways the Spirit is guiding us to minister. Look back at our religious heritage and our particular congregation’s history to understand where we’ve been as we pray about where we are now and where the Spirit may want us to go in the future. Clarify oour church’s core values and ask how congruent our ministry practices are with the values we hold about ministry. Shape our congregation’s culture so it more faithfully and fully represents God’s purposes in the world. Regularly take inventory of the people and resources flowing into our church and the ministry that’s flowing out. Ask how, in light of this information, our church can better impact its community. When deciding on how to design our core missional practices (worship, education and discipleship, care and fellowship, service, and witness), go with what the Spirit is leading us to do rather than just with what style is most popular. Ask the Spirit to keep our congregation’s vision fresh and develop its leadership and infrastructure (such as communication, facilities, and finances). Help all our church members understand their vocation in the world and deploy their gifts to participate in God’s mission in the world.
PURSUE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT.
Invite the Holy Spirit to use a variety of things to develop and grow congregation: conflict, adverse circumstances, ministry to people on the margins of society, intentional strategy, divine intervention, and new insights into the Gospel and our culture. Account for the reality of sin as we assess our church’s growth, and expect our congregation to sometimes be misunderstood or even mistreated as it follows the Spirit’s leading. Be willing to forgive, be humble, and work together with grace. Expect resistance to changes; commit plenty of time and invest plenty of energy into implementing them. Be graceful as we make changes – ranging from minor improvements to major re-creations – trusting the Spirit to guide us every step of the way.
Remember M.E.T.R.O.: We can work our hardest to try to make our church successful, but our best efforts won’t lead anywhere if we’re not leading the church where the Holy Spirit wants it to go. The Spirit has a particular mission for our church, and it’s only when we discover and follow it that our church can grow the way God intends.