In the book Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, author Reggie McNeal shares about a shift that is taking place in churches around the world. I had read this book last year, but I decided to go back through it this week in preparation for my sermon Sunday. I shared a message about the importance of engaging our culture and used Acts 17:16-31 as my example. In this book, the author shares about three major changes that are taking place in the missional church.
- the change from an internal to an external focus
- the change from program development to people development
- the change from church-based to kingdom based leadership
For our church and many other churches we are in the process of changing the scorecard of how we measure what is really important. Instead of focusing on the ABC’s (attendance, buildings, and cash) we want to focus on our effectiveness at making disciples. This book does a great job of sharing what the new scorecard should be. I shared an illustration from the book about airports during my message Sunday. Here is what the author shared.
The airport is a place of connection, not a destination. Its job is to help people get somewhere else. … When the church thinks it’s the destination, it also confuses the scorecard. It thinks that if people are hovering around and in the church, the church is winning. The truth is, when that’s the case, the church is really keeping people from where they want to go, from their real destination. That destination is life. … The church is a connector, linking people to the kingdom life that God has for them. Substituting church activity as the preferred life expression is as weird as believing that airports are more interesting than the destinations they serve.
Think about it, when traveling, airports serve as the place where you find information about your connecting flights, it’s the place where you receive nourishment before your trip, and it’s the place where you recharge before you take flight (I’m still wondering why finding an electrical outlet in an airport is harder than finding Waldo) Airports serve a purpose of connecting you to where you want to go. What if we started viewing the church like that? As a place of information, encouragement, nourishment, and recharging, preparing people to take flight and take the gospel into the world in which they live? Unfortunately, we’ve come to the place where many believe the mission of the church is self-preservation.
Churches worry more about their seating capacity instead of their sending capacity. The reality is that many people in our communities will simply not come to us, we must take the church to them. I also read The Externally Focused Church again this week, which is another great book about how we can serve and show the love of Christ to the communities in which we live.
If we want to be effective as churches, we must start tracking, encouraging, and teaching what is really important. We simply need to change the scorecard.