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A Model

When you want to produce a certain product it is important to have a model to work from.  So when one wishes to produce a church you look for a model.  For all of my ministry in one way or another I have been looking for a model that will “do it.”  It is a search that provides many companions.  It feeds book publishers, conference organizers, seminary professors and church gurus.

My first model was quite naturally the church where I grew up.  It was the only one I really knew very much about and I learned much from it.  Along the way I was involved in many different churches first as a lay person and then a professional minister.  All of them were models–some good, some not so good.  Some were clearly models of how not to “do it.”

Like everyone in search of “the” right model I was naturally attracted to the “successful” churches—the list is long. All of them have registered great things for God’s kingdom.  And I have learned from them and many others including churches where I served as a pastor for more than 30 years.

The problem is that models are what they are and not what I am or we are.  We can learn from them but we cannot be them.  Practically every one involved says that and warns against trying to copy them.  Every church–pastor, location, history, leadership and situation is different.  Consequently every church must determine what God expects of it and then seek to become what that is.

All to say–that’s why we need to “listen”–pray, study, reflect and discuss these types of things as an ongoing part of our church life.  That is my understanding of the intent of the “Visioning” process in which our church is engaged.

Please pray for this process and continue to ask God, “What do you want to do in this place?”  “How do you want to use me?”  “How do you want to use this church?”

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