I recently read a great eBook by Greg Nettle and Alex Absalom titled One Of. In this resource, Greg and Alex unpack the process of moving churches from an attractional model to one more missional in the approach to outreach and ministry. One overarching theme throughout the book that really struck a chord with me was,
“The more we invest in things close to God's heart, the more He entrusts us to steward.”
Time and time again I have seen the truth of that statement played out in churches all over the world. Churches that invest first and foremost in what God cares about most — people — typically find themselves with a lot of opportunities to see God’s hand at work. I've noticed Churches that are growing and healthy also seem to put caring for people first. Given the Parable of the Talents, this should be a no-brainer, right?
Unfortunately, it's not easy to be a good steward of people. It takes commitment, effort, process, and good systems. It also takes leadership willing to endure a little messiness combined with trust that God will reward. Because of the associated challenges, it is easy to take your eye off the ball and focus more on things like programs, buildings, finances, staff, etc. Those things are often easier to control. While they are certainly important, they can also derail you if they come at the expense of your care for people inside and outside of the church community.
So, are you truly investing in what matters most to God? Here are seven questions which might help reveal the answer:
- Do you care who shows up? — Is your first-time visitor process effective?
- Do you care who comes back? — What system is in place to help you know that?
- Do you care who actually shows up for small group? — Do you track the faces or just the numbers?
- Do you care for your leaders? — Do they feel valued and heard? Do they know where to go when they need help?
- Do you honor those who want to serve? — Are volunteers actively and regularly affirmed?
- Do you help people take the next step? — Have you demystified the process of getting involved?
- Do you go to your community, or must they come to you? — Are you hoping your church will grow, or are you hoping your community will be better because of you?
People are the greatest Kingdom investment. It’s not okay to simply keep track of numbers and finances. It is our responsibility as church leaders to keep track of God’s most precious creation. That’s the bottom line. Let’s keep our eyes on that ball.
What things have helped your church focus on what matters most to God?