we assess the success of a coach by the effectiveness of
his players. In the Church, leaders should function as
coaches -- equipping the saints for works of
service -- but, oddly, we assess the effectiveness
of church leaders by their own individual performances
(usually in the pulpit, classroom, or counseling
office). Most pastors would be fired if we measured them
by the effectiveness of their parishioners to impact the
world for Christ."
The church faces difficult days, not because she's under
attack from Satan (though that surely happens) but
because we have lost our focus.
failure to understand and pursue spiritual formation
produces lethargy, aimlessness, and ineffectiveness -- people
who barely follow Christ themselves
and cannot lead others to do
drifts from program to program from week to week --
indeed, we drift --
because we lack clarity and vision of what the deeper
life looks like and
followers of Christ discover personal abundance and real world-impact
when they regularly encounter Christ, experience
personal transformation, and share in His mission. Their
lives intentionally integrate "with Christ,
like Christ, and for
call this discipleship. Others refer to it as spiritual
formation. The labels matter little, but the concepts -- fully
embraced -- will revitalize us and the
Our Achilles heel has not been an entire lack of understanding but
failure to focus whole-heartedly and persistently on the fundamentals.
We have falsely assumed that people praying alone, reading
alone, and left alone can "work it out." Our lack
of intentionality has produced the insipidity that
It can change, but our confusion and neglect must cease.
For too long we have let
everyone do what is right in their own eyes. Provided folk
show up for a church service (and bring their offering
with them) we have considered them fine. Our preaching
and teaching has frequently devolved to short ethics
lectures -- how we should behave as Christian marriage
partners, parents, and citizens -- without
consistent attentiveness to the Presence of
Christ, surrender to inner transformation, and sharing
Our lack of
strategic focus and intentionality produces inch-deep
believers and the emerging statistics should alarm us.
Christians basically share cultural values on marriage,
family, money, and work. The church, for the
most part, mirrors society. No longer is she
counter-cultural but acceptably sub-cultural. The salt
has little flavor because it is poorly
It can change.
But it must start with each of us personally.
How intentional is your own life right now "with
Christ, like Christ, and for Christ"? It's time to make
a plan ... and pray.
In HOPE --