Pursuing excellence

How many times have we done something to the best of our ability and when finished, had the feeling of great accomplishment?  But, then we move in mediocrity in other pursuits, behaviors, and actions.  This pattern of doing things is the opposite of excellence.  Instead, excellence should be nuanced by consistency.  We could also look at the this as whole-life stewardship.  There are a few Scriptures that speak to this level of consistency…

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:7-9

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” – Titus 2:7-8

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” – Matthew 5:37

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16

Each of these passages of Scripture speaks to the need for consistency, which in turn, leads to the type of excellence believers need.  Why is excellence important to Christians?  In my opinion, consistent commitment and delivery to do the best they can gives credibility.  Credibility gives way to believability and dependability.  If you are consistent in your actions and words, it is easier and more sensible to trust you.

How do we gain an excellent spirit (Daniel 6:3)?

  • Punctuality – show up on time (even early) and not late.  Constantly arriving late to church and other life events only builds up the mentality in others that we are not dependable to be there when we need to be.
  • Responsibility – Performing our daily duties, tasks, and roles with an attitude of joy and seriousness only compound into a life characterized by excellence.  Taking responsibility for actions shows that we understand the repercussions of our actions and inaction.
  • Finances – There are not many areas like finances, where a lack of discipline makes such a great impact.  Inconsistent budgeting and stewardship in this area leads to all kinds of headaches and negatively affects what a person can do.
  • Behavior – Moodiness and an unpredictable nature will make others uneasy.  Decreasing our credibility and even our dependability.
  • Spiritual Disciplines – Prayer, reading the Bible, attending worship and congregational activities, fasting, and a whole bunch of other spiritual disciplines is great.  None of them will become strong proponents in our life if not practiced with consistency.  These disciplines that God uses to pour his grace into our lives will not change us when we only pursue them in heightened moments of spirituality.  They are daily and weekly practices that need a consistent pattern to become beneficial.
  • Values and Morals – In our current society, it is nothing new to hear someone say that their views have changed.  It is important that they continually line up our lifestyle and convictions to the Word of God and to change them according to society.  We need to know our boundaries and keep them.

Revival Hope

A famous passage of Scripture is Psalm 85:6, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy may rejoice in thee.”  Historically speaking, the psalmist is speaking of the restoration of Israel from some calamity.  Whether this is from captivity in exile or other troubled times in the nation’s history, one thing is for sure; the people need revival (חיה,ḥā·yā(h), Hebrew), restoration, recovery, or a return to former glory.  Believers need revival today.  We are about to enter into a time of revival at our local church.

In a noteworthy writing, Leonard Ravenhill shared six reasons why revival tarries (meaning, why we still have the need for revival).  I believe these are still applicable even after a few decades.

  1. Evangelism is so highly commercialized
  2. Cheapening of the Gospel
  3. Carelessness
  4. Fear
  5. Lack of urgency in prayer, and
  6. We still the glory that belongs to God. – Ravenhill, 1959, pp. 55-61

One critical observation about a revival that continues to stand out to me is, “When revival comes, Christians will act like Christians.”  In our current society, believers need to measure up to the Bible, not the standards of society.  This measuring could take place in many different areas of life, but the Scripture is clear on one thing, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).  Yes, we need to be concrete in our stance against sin, but Christ-like love for believers and all humanity is the Scriptural position of how people should view Christians.

If your “revival” does not incur a friendly, humble, and compassionate group of believers, you may need to seek a greater sense of revival.

Reference

Ravenhill, Leonard (1959) Why Revival Tarries. Bethany House Publishers. Minneapolis, MN.

Church Health

Over the past week, I have had a persistent cough that has whittled away at my strength and daily routine.  I can be a hard headed with it comes to what I perceive as minor colds and going to the doctor.  With this one, I probably should and will.  Health is a vital part of life (literally).

Recently, I was asked to consider setting up a Church Growth class through the local Bible institute we oversee.  Immediately, I brought up the greater need for Church health and revitalization.  It is my position that not every growing church is healthy but, healthy churches will grow.

William T. McConnel (2007, p. 8) wrote, “Nothing on the planet Earth may be more dangerous than a pastor who has just returned from a conference on church growth.”  The big reason I shy away from Church growth thinking is that many times, pastors and other church leaders try to immediately implement what they learn.  This is quick to move and slow to think is not helped by the out of the box approach Church Growth presenters utilize.  McConnel (2007, p. 11) also pointed out that “Growing and shrinking congregations DO the same things. (There are no best programs).”  Programs will not strengthen a congregation.  Only the Spirit of God and people who are seeking to follow Him will bring revival.

When does a church need to examine its health?

The simple answer to that question: how many times do you have a health evaluation?  At least once a year, hopefully.  It is important for the leadership and the body of believers to examine where the local congregation is heading.  It is also important to receive counsel from other who are trained and experienced in such types of evaluation.

What areas need to be revitalized?

We are used to the ABC’s of Church growth paradigm: Attendance, buildings, and cash flow.  In the Church health model, these are still important but are seen as the basic vital signs instead of growth or success indicators.  If these previous areas are no longer the indicators of health, what is?

  • Preaching/teaching of God’s Word
  • Spirituality
  • Great Commission Driven (evangelism and missions)
  • Worship
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Discipleship
  • Functionality (participation)
  • Outreach
  • Fellowship (Love and openness)

I would venture to say that we could find other areas to evaluate our local church’s health.  Are there other areas that you would add to this list?

Some of these may seem difficult to measure, but it is possible to gain an idea.  If you are interested in Church health consulting, email me at pastor@cfcbchurch.com.

References

McConnel, William T (2007). Renew Your Congregation: Healing the Sick, Raising the Dead.  Chalice Press. St. Louis, MO