Quit weighing all the pros and cons of a decision. Instead, seek the Lord’s leading and follow that path.
This past weekend our pastor preached on decision-making, and while he didn’t exactly call us to prayer, he did delineate between spreadsheets and spirituality in decision-making. How many of us create columns—at least in our minds—when making decisions?
For example, when it comes to dating: Christian? Check. Fun? Check. Attractive? Check. Good job? Check. And so it goes. We do this for many major decisions; new jobs, new homes, starting a family, finding a church home, and more.
Our pastor made this simple point: When we lean on our own understanding we make spreadsheet decisions, not spiritual ones. Rather, we are to learn to “trust in the Lord with all our hearts” (Proverbs 3:5).
It got me thinking.
Our church (in California) is a franchise from Texas. Branding is all important. Nothing can be done without Texan approval. Someone has weighed the pros and cons and decided that local church autonomy is simply too hazardous. McDonald’s in one state looks the same as in any other state—Golden Arches, menu, packaging, the works. So does our church.
Many congregational leaders (including ours) have also embraced the “Simple Church” model. This model involves shutting down most ministries except weekend services, small groups, and limited youth ministry. “It prevents burnout.” “It focuses our corporate energy.”
I can see the benefits of running the church along these corporate lines, if indeed a church is a “business” that we “run.” Branding and burnout afflict many congregations. Badly handled budgets are a blight in many fellowships. But I must admit it feels like spreadsheet leadership. I wonder if the Church in one location can, or even should, look the same as the church in another location?
I’m not wading into video venues or stage sets designed to trick the mind of the audience, though these seem related issues. I’m just wondering, perhaps out loud with you (my friends), whether our ecclesiology (our understanding of the basic nature of the church) needs to be re-visited.
To what extent should a local congregation have a local DNA? Pastoral leadership that knows the people, understands the community, and builds a congregation that is culturally and spiritually sensitive to its context, would seem to require spiritual leadership rather than spreadsheet leadership.
The wise will always look to the leading of Christ. The “wise in their own eyes” may find themselves distracted by the common cultural wisdom around them rather than the work of Christ among them.
Do we need a deeper, richer, more local, more biblically-grounded understanding of the Church?