Americans celebrate Independence Day with traditions like barbecues, fireworks, and watermelon. Another tradition that started in 1916 is Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest in New York. The challenge is simple: eat as many hotdogs and buns as you can in 10 minutes. Joey Chestnut is a legend, having won 15 of the last 16 competitions. He won again yesterday eating 63 hotdogs and buns.
I’ve eaten my fair share of hotdogs, but not that many. And although I love a good chili dog, I do believe (and so does my stomach) that you can have too much of a good thing.
The Way I See It…
Too much of a good thing can be detrimental. A church that experiences God’s blessings can put so much emphasis on those provisions that they become idols. Here are four checkpoints to evaluate whether or not your church is focused on the wrong thing.
- Structure over people – Some churches live and die by their constitution. Do church influencers know more about the by-laws than they know about lost people in the community? When structure or policy takes precedence over people, things are out of balance. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost not to ensure the church organization is functioning properly.
- Tenure over creativity – Long tenured pastors can be a benefit because of the multi-generational impact he can have on ministry. Stability over a long period of time can result in strong family relationships and clear annual ministry expectations. The danger of long tenures is the church can become stuck in a rut without a flexible or creative leader. Long patterns of doing ministry the same way can lead to stagnation and decline in church health.
- Space over ministry – Empty rooms where ministry used to take place turned into storage rooms, volunteers who become owners of their classroom and habitual neglect of outdated spaces are a few examples of losing sight of the purpose of a church building. Every square inch of your facility should be utilized to fulfill ministry opportunities.
- Numbers over discipleship – The Great Commission commands us to make disciples, and that doesn’t happen only in the context of crowds. Jesus spoke to crowds, but he also had teachable moments with his small group of disciples and conversations with individuals. Emphasizing how many people attended your weekend service can turn into idolizing numbers instead of the names of those you serve.
What are you celebrating as a church? Structure, tenure, space, numbers are all good provisions when kept in balance. Get those out of balance and just like eating too many hotdogs, the body will suffer.