What informs your church structure?

Notes from our weekly NCF Church Staff meeting by Grant Crawford compiled by Sabine Mahabeer

There are many different denominations in our greater church family, and everyone has a certain way of doing things. In recent events, we were asked how we structured our church, because “whatever we are doing seems to be working”. In answer to this question, here are some thoughts:

Your structure must serve your vision. Your vision mustn’t be squashed into your structure.

Values and principles give rise to structure. Structures, people and meetings may come and go, but the real question is: What is the foundation on which God builds His Church?

1. Church is not for Church

At the very front of our vision is a longing to see lost people saved. Church is not for church. A disciple, by his very definition, is someone who goes to make disciples. We are meant to “go into the world and make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28v19)”.

This command extends to things such as meetings: our view is that the only meeting aimed solely at regular church attendees should be a leaders’ meeting. Every other ‘meeting’ should be an outreach opportunity to see people saved. This includes financial – or marriage courses, worship events or topical meetings of similar nature.

In addition, we hold to the view that a pastor can’t be in charge of doing everything from cleaning the church to preaching, as well as whatever else falls in between those two tasks. Often people come to church thinking that the church exists to serve them and to create an opportunity to meet other church people and, as a result, adopt an attitude of: ”Why would I serve?”.

However, we need to understand that church is for others, and that it serves to lift Jesus up, and see the lost saved. This is part of the greater cause and we shouldn’t lose this principle value.

 A church must have a hunger to see the lost saved.

2. Equip the Saints

In Ephesians 4v12, we read that the role of a pastor is to “equip the saints for acts of service”. A pastor doesn’t do the evangelising- he equips the saints to do so.

A challenge we are likely to face is the challenge of getting people involved in serving at church. However, the fact remains that we need to get everyone on board when it comes to serving in the church. We need to get people out of the mentality and posture of passivity and into an active role. This in turn will start having a positive impact on church life, as well as people’s own personal lives and workplaces.

The best person to recruit someone else to serve is someone who is passionate and who loves the ministry he or she is serving in.

We need to encourage people, and give a higher meaning to what they are doing, as well as equip them to succeed in their place of ministry. We want everyone on board as we follow the greater call we received from Jesus.

 3. ‘Think Young’ Without Losing the Gospel

We try to ‘think young’ when planning for the future. For example, 70% of Pietermaritzburg is under the age of 35. That is something we need to take into consideration when we plan the way we do church. The older people may love it when young people come to church, but we can lose these young people when a church comes across as boring and out-dated. Therefore, we need to present the gospel in a way that is appealing to young people.

If we look redundant, people will think we are redundant.

This leads to two issues that we face as Christians. In regards to sharing the gospel, there are some things we don’t contend because they are non-negotiable. These include theological topics such as “Jesus is the only way to the Father” or that there is a heaven and a hell. We don’t change anything about the gospel of Christ, but we do change the package the gospel comes in and the way we do church.

However, there are others who are too liberal in their church theology. They take liberties that are unbiblical. The way they do church and life may look cool, but the truth is that they are watering down the gospel.

Then there are others, who are conservative in practice, but liberal in their teaching. This is dangerous because they may look respectable, but have completely abandoned the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When we are ‘thinking young’, we need to know what we stand for and never stray from the gospel Jesus preached.

 4. Everyone can be a leader

One last subject informing our principles- and this may seem controversial to some people- is that every Christian can be a leader. A person, who has been saved for only three months, can be a leader. This doesn’t mean that everyone is qualified to, or does in fact lead, but if they take it seriously everyone can be a leader in one shape or form.

The ways in which we can help this process include getting people involved and train, release and encourage them to lead.

These above-mentioned values stand at the centre of what we do, and because of them, our structures change.Our ultimate leader is Jesus who equips us to do His work. The foundation of our church is not built on people or structure, but on Jesus.

Feature image acknowledgement: wallpapersfor.me