Craig Groeschel is thinking about and refining his church values. I find his comments worth listening to, so here they are, along with some comments of my own.
1) We are faith-filled, big thinking, bet-the-farm risk takers. We’ll never insult God with small thinking and safe living.
Craig doesn’t tread lightly, does he? We’ve done a little of this here in Pittsburg – acquiring the property across the street comes to mind. But in many ways we do value playing things safe, both in our individual lives and in our life as a church. Part of our reluctance to risk might be that we’re so heavily invested in our status quo. We (families and the church) have buildings we love, use regularly (and still owe on). The church in Georgia that recently sold its building so it could have more money for ministry might as well be on another planet as far as we are concerned. We have children to raise. We thrive on continuity and predictability.
2) We are all about the “capital C” Church! The local church is the hope of the world and we know we can accomplish infinitely more together than apart.
One of the good things about Pittsburg is the degree to which churches are willing to work together, to work as partners in ministry rather than competitors. When an arsonist torched our youth building several years ago another church in town took up an offering for us. That wouldn’t happen in every community I’ve lived in. We participate in each others events and have events in common. we’ve even crossed the Catholic/Protestant divide. Considering the demographics of our community there are plenty of people around who are unattached to any church for all our churches to grow without merely shuffling sheep. And maybe we’ll fulfill Jesus’ prayer in John 17 at the same time.
3) We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world.
With the current economic downturn – which hit our county especially hard, with our major industry/employer going through bankruptcy – there is a temptation to hold on to all we have with a death grip. But that is death. In the midst of challenges our people have remained generous and willing to meet the needs of people. I’m still convinced that generosity is healthy.
4) We give up things we love for things we love even more. It’s an honor to sacrifice for Christ and His church.
What a good way to put it! We don’t just give up junk – the useless things lying around, the things we no longer value. We give up good things, things we enjoy and care about. We give them up for the sake of greater things. The tough part is taking the time to examine our values.
5) We wholeheartedly reject the label mega-church. We are a micro-church with a mega-vision.
If anyone called us a mega-church, we’d have to think them sorely misguided. Surely they don’t know what they’re talking about. Our biggest crowd in my seven years here has been 378. We average just under 200. We have just over 400 members. While this is mega compared to one of the first churches I pastored (Bloomburg UMC – 10 people on Sunday), that’s what it’d be called. But that’s not what most people mean by mega. For us, then, we’d say something like, “We whole-heartedly reject the label small church.” First, we serve a mighty God who raised Jesus from the dead and gives us the Holy Spirit. We may be few in number in a town of small population in the 3rd smallest county in Texas, but our reach extends to the ends of the earth. Second, we still have some work to do on the micro end of things. We need more small groups where people can be intimately known, loved, discipled and equipped for ministry, places where people can speak and hear the truth in love.