Article by Teresa Chang
God has invited you as church leaders to partner with Him, fulfilling His intention for the city He has assigned to you and the people He has given you to lead. When you know His intentions and His overall plan, you can build structures that are consistent with His plan and are effective in terms of reaching the people around you.
Structures (programs and ministries within your church) help channel your church in the right direction. Your people especially need these structures because they aren’t exposed to the vision as much as you are. As the leader, you know the plan well because you’re around it 24 hours a day. You’re thinking about intentionality and how to move forward, but your average member is getting only two to three hours of exposure to you a week. With the right structures in place, you can lead people more effectively, and they can find a sense of fulfillment in the vision they are following with you.
Here are a few ways you can build structures that will produce the kind of growth you’re looking for:
1. Your structures need to be intentional.
The programs and ministries in your church need to match your purpose as a church. What is your church called to do? Who are you called to reach? What is the “nature” of the city you’re in, and what are the ramifications of your target? Remember why you are here, and be intentional about following God’s plan for you as a church.
2. Your structures need to be goal-oriented.
Much of our church culture is not very goal-oriented. We tend to be fairly relaxed about achievement, so we often join ministries, are a part of the team for a few months or years, and eventually leave without accomplishing anything important.
Build a culture of intentionality in your church, so people know what they want to achieve and when. When this culture is in place, you can produce within people the momentum and fruit that validates their sacrifice. You are asking for their time, money, energy and talent—give them results that will validate their efforts.
3. Your structures need to be life-giving.
Programs should not be burdens; they should be servants to the people who are carrying them. When Jesus referred to the Sabbath, He said, “People weren’t made for the Sabbath. Sabbath was made for people.” The same is true with ministries, structures and programs.
One mistake churches often make is trying to keep old programs alive. At times we blister our hands as we shovel “coal” into the program to keep it burning…when the program died a year ago and needs to be given a gracious, respectful burial. A group shouldn’t be kept going if it has outlived its usefulness.
What is God doing in your church? What does He want to do in your church? Find what gives you life. As programs were made for people, be sure they serve people effectively.
So in summary, build healthy structures that are intentional, goal-oriented and life-giving. In this way, they will produce the kind of thriving congregation you desire, which will in turn produce the kind of impact you want to have in your community.