CHURCH LEADERS WHO BUILD FROM THE INSIDE-OUT
John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Movement, is crediting with influencing many streams of the Body of Christ, especially churches emphasizing renewal and revival. He was also one of the premier experts on “doing Church” in our generation. It was Wimber who popularized the phrase, “Building the Church from the Inside-out.” In order to illustrate what he meant, he drew a pyramid that had five horizontal lines. In the top triangle he placed the word “Personnel”, then in descending order he place the words: Programs, Practices, Priorities and Values, with Vision at the base.
Wimber then declared that most leaders are focused upon programs and personnel while the effectiveness of the Church is most impacted by values, priorities and practices, which are the three primary elements of culture. It was Wimber’s conviction that the powerlessness of a Church or ministry was directly related to the lack of consistency between its culture and its programs.
As pastors and leaders, we are often overwhelmed by the “tyranny of the urgent” and the demands of people, so that we find ourselves continually addressing the “symptoms” of church problems rather than addressing the “causes” that are normally rooted in cultural challenges and weaknesses.
A common example that most of us can relate to is this: We hear from various people in our church that many are feeling lonely and relationally disconnected, so we hold a leaders meeting and decide to institute a small group program. Next, we appoint a leader to run with the ball, we find a program we that we feel good about, we hold a series of information meetings and preach every Sunday for eight weeks on the need for relationship in the Body. Finally, we launch our new small group ministry with great pomp and circumstance. Unfortunately, in spite of our best efforts, only a small percentage of our membership join the new groups, including almost none of the people who were complaining about disconnection.
The reason the programmatic approach failed was because the community lacked the core values of relationship and accountability. This example can be replayed around many other important issues such as evangelism programs, healing rooms, children’s church, family ministries, etc. Programmatic solutions fail or succeed to the degree that they correspond to the “actual” cultural values, priorities and practices of the community.
In the next and last article in this series, we’ll dive into how to cultivate Kingdom culture in your ministry.
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