Ask a small-town church’s congregation what they want for their church, you will get similar answers. They want to grow, to reach new people, to see more young families, to reach Millennials, to have an increase in baptisms, and other similar goals.
All of these goals are great, but do you notice something? They are all about what they want other people to do. Sure, they want to be part of leading new people to Christ, reaching new families, and so on, but it is still other people who are making the life change; it’s about something the church wants to see from other people. But what if we put our primary focus on ourselves and what we want to be?
“I’d like to see…” Goals
Many people express their hopes for the church with a statement that begins “I’d sure like to see [fill in the blank].” This phrasing reveals something about the person’s expectation. He or she expects to be a spectator.
To be blunt, when we state our goals this way, we’re saying we’d like to see it, but we really expect someone else to do it. That might be unfair, you say, because you are actively involved in ministry, actively involved in outreach. But often we get into outreach programs for the purpose of seeing others change, with no such expectation of ourselves.
What if we changed our focus from the change we want to see from those outside of the church to the change we want to see from those who are already members?
“We Want to Be…” Goals
The first objection you might feel for this type of focus is that it brings our focus inward, instead of outward and on mission for God. That would be a real danger if the “we want to be…” goals centered on personal empowerment or comforts.
Instead, our ambition should be to be like Jesus, to know him intimately and to discover how he wants to partner with us in bringing the kingdom of God to earth. If this is our focus, to see Christ formed in us and in one another, we will never become ingrown or complacent. Our concern for evangelism will increase, not decrease, but we will go out in the power of the Spirit with a heart that truly cares for the lost.
We will become more disciplined and less prone to sin. We will grow in love for one another and in unity of purpose and mission. We will give freely of our time and our possessions for the things that bring God’s will to bear on earth as it is in heaven. We will not omit the last part of the Great Commission, to learn to obey, and to teach others to obey, everything Jesus has commanded.
Our church is about to launch into a huge change in our methods. We hope to see a lot of new people come to faith. We hope to see a lot of new faces and younger people becoming more involved in the life of the church.
But the move of God we pray for, hope for, and anticipate must not be primarily about what we want to see out of others. It has to be about our own response to Jesus, to desire to become more like him, to know him and the power of his resurrection, to see his rule come over our own souls, so that we can be useful in bringing about his purpose in the world.
What are your church’s goals? Do you talk more about what you want to “see” others do or more about what you want to become? Let’s discuss it in the comments.