Over the years I have learned that one of the biggest obstacles to Great Commission ministry is church work – church busy work. Many Christians and their leaders are so busy filling slots in the church’s programming and structure that they can’t find the time to do the REAL work of ministry – reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The vast majority of American evangelical churches is in plateau or decline. Characteristically, the church in plateau is over-programmed and the church in decline is over-structured. Churches in plateau tend to be driven by their programming, believing that whatever success or effectiveness they are experiencing is the result of the menu of programs that is offered. Careful observation will reveal that any growth that such a church might be experiencing is transfer growth, not conversion growth, as Christians leave churches with less appealing programming to attend theirs. The kingdom doesn’t grow but the church might. However, those attracted are typically not there to serve but to be served, and as soon as another church comes along with still more appealing programming, they’ll take their church business elsewhere.
Churches in decline tend to be structure driven as the inner workings of organizational framework dominate more and more as the church’s ministry shrinks. Too many leaders attend too many meetings to repeat the same discussions and conversations again and again while the front line ministry of reaching the community fades further and further into the background.
What is God’s vision for the church? He envisions an eternal family of all peoples that is too numerous to count. They will be His people and He will be their God. How is this to happen? Those already in His family are to reach those who have not yet come in. They are to go and make disciples. They are to be His witnesses.
Countless pastors and leaders have told me they would like nothing more than to see new believers coming into their churches, but they’re so swamped with the work of the church they never get to the work of the kingdom. Could it be that we get so busy with church work that we neglect our Father’s business? Luke 2:49.