by Andy Comer
Over the last 18 months there have been hundreds of questions running through my mind, and I’m not exaggerating. When you have the opportunity to start a church from scratch, you evaluate everything.
We’ve asked questions about everything from kids ministry to senior adult ministry; vision to values; budgets to buildings. We’re asking specific questions like:
- How will we disciple new believers?
- Where will we baptize new believers?
- What’s the most effective way to get the word out about a new church?
- Who are the people? Where do they live? What do they like?
- Will the new copy machine look weird in my living room?
It’s good to ask questions, whether you are starting a new church or shepherding an existing church. My church planting coach Brandon Cox put together a list of 92 Questions for Evaluating the Health of Your Church. That’s a good place to start.
Some questions don’t need wrestling, they just need answering.
For example, where are we going to baptize new believers? That question needs an answer. Where are we going to hold our first worship service? That question needs an answer too! We may not have all those answers yet, but we have full confidence that God will reveal His perfect plan in His perfect timing.
On the other hand, we have chosen to wrestle with a few questions. These questions don’t have a clear-cut answer. In fact, the answers we have today may change in a few years. We have resolved to not entirely resolve these questions.
These 4 questions will help us grow forward as we lead people to follow Christ in a life-changing way.
Question 1 – How will we build relationships with unchurched people?
For most of us, our closest friends are people we go to church with. It’s natural to gravitate towards people who share the same beliefs and values we do. And that’s a good thing! You ought to be in close fellowship with your church family!
But the question we’re really wrestling with is how to build relationships with people we DON’T go to church with. How do we guard against creating a holy huddle that neglects the people we are sent to reach in the first place? It’s a challenging thought worth wrestling.
Building relationships is the key to building influence. We realize that if we want to speak into people’s lives, we need to be engaged in meaningful relationships with people outside our four walls.
We must be intentional about building relationships with people where we hobby, where we live, and where we work.
Question 2 – What’s the one issue in our city where we would most like to have an impact over the next 5-10 years?
We’re don’t have a hero complex. We know we can’t do everything, but we can do something. We know we can make a difference because Jesus is a difference maker.
We’re wrestling with what issue God will lead us to address. Maybe it’s supporting families with disabilities or helping struggling single moms. Maybe we’ll partner with a school or address social injustice issues. We’re willing to wrestle with the question to discern God’s will.
Reaping what you sow takes time. Fruit isn’t produced overnight. Our desire is to be a steady support over the long haul. The only way to impact an entire community is to impact one family at a time.
Question 3 – What are the 2-3 ministries we believe will have the biggest return on our resource investment?
Everyday you and I invest time, money, and energy into something, and we should be good stewards of those resources we invest.
As a new church, it’s not feasible for us to have a “something for everyone” approach. We won’t have the capacity to facilitate a children’s ministry, student ministry, college ministry, singles ministry, senior adult ministry, and a basket weaving ministry.
Instead we are choosing to focus on 2-3 ministries that have the biggest return on our resource investment. To discover what those ministries are, we’ll evaluate the overlap of our passions, personalities, and giftings. Once we identify our “sweet spot,” we’re going all in!
Question 4 – After we launch, how will we balance outward focus with inward care?
If a church isn’t careful, it tends to seesaw back and forth between outward focus and inward care. I don’t believe it has to be either/or. It can be both/and.
Early on, 90% of what we do will lean toward those outside the church. After all, we’ll only have a small group inside the church. But as more and more outsiders become insiders, it’s easy to teeter in the other direction and only focus on those inside the church.
We’ve chosen to wrestle with this question over the life of our church because it affects the health of our church. A healthy church has a good balance between reaching outside the walls, yet continuing to grow and disciples those inside the walls.
These are 4 questions we’re really wrestling with, and hope to wrestle with for years to come. I’m sure there will be other questions we’ll have to address later, but for now our dukes are up. Let’s go!