Should we just give up on pondering The Ideal Church? Not a chance.
Back on Dec. 19, on this blog, I raised the question: What Does The Ideal Church Look Like? My hope was to spark a vigorous discussion on an important topic at a time when the modern American church is clearly in a rapid state of decline. Unfortunately, the response was less than vigorous; it attracted just five comments.
OK, I get it. What did I expect on Dec. 19? As I was uploading that post, you were standing in line somewhere to buy a Lego set or a Barbados Barbie or a Keurig coffeemaker for someone you love. And I wanna talk about church? You had cookies to frost, a Christmas tree to plug in, and gift cards to swap. Who has the time?
Sorry, but I’m not going away that easily. I’ve been raising this question for several decades now, and never has it been more relevant than today. What does The Ideal Church look like? Whether you are a church member, or are searching for a church home, or are thinking about starting a new church, the answer to this question is essential.
The few responses we did receive are outstanding. Two pastors, one in Texas and one in Oklahoma, weighed in, plus a great Christian sister in San José, Costa Rica, as well as the ever-reliable “Anonymous.”
Eric Keller has been the pastor of Oakwood Christian Church in Enid, Okla., for 4+ years. Oakwood is a great church with several hundred members that found itself in difficult waters a few years ago. Eric has done an amazing job of leading Oakwood through a series of difficult transitions, with the result that Oakwood is a stronger church now than it has been in years.
Eric listed six qualities of an ideal church. No. 1 on Eric’s list: “Biblical Authority: God has spoken to us through the Bible and we recognize it as the final authority in our lives.” Amen, brother!
Steve Hinton is pastor of Cypress Crossings Christian Church in Houston. CCCC was started more than a dozen years ago by a handful who left another church. The group laid a strong foundation in a growing suburban neighborhood, but couldn’t break past an attendance of around 75 during its first ten years. Then Cypress Crossings called Steve three years ago. Steve has led CCCC to experience a great turnaround, which is one of the hardest things for any church to achieve. Attendance has doubled; the church is growing in maturity and outreach.
Steve listed three characteristics of an ideal church. No. 1 on Steve’s list: “An unwavering Commitment to the Word of God.” Amen, brother!
Eric and Steve are following the same playbook, and the results speak for themselves. What a transformation would occur if more churches decided that in 2013, their No. 1 commitment — first, foremost, and to the exclusion of all others– is the Word of God.
What about you? Do you have an opinion about the Ideal Church? Has it occurred to you that maybe it isn’t just up to the pastors to decide? Is it possible God that expects each one of us, every member of the Body, to participate in making the church the church?
The odds are that your church is less than ideal. So what are you doing to point your church to better days? It is impossible to achieve a goal that has not been identified, specified and articulated. That’s the purpose of this question.
What do you think? Don’t be intimidated by what Eric and Steve have written. They’re just the pastors. Without the enthusiastic participation of a turned-on congregation, all a pastor can do is put on a good weekend show. Many pastors and many congregations are content with that. But that’s sure not the ideal. What you say about the church matters, because you ARE the church.
Maybe you think the most important thing is the music. Maybe you think it’s all about the kids. Maybe you think the most important thing is location, location, location. The ideal church has dozens of positive characteristics, and each one requires a church member who speaks up from his or her unique background and gifting and perspective.
Do you want to be part of The Ideal Church? The only way it will ever happen is if we start having the conversation. How about contributing to the discussion by weighing in in the comments field below — or the comments field of the earlier post?