We must ask what we’re trying to achieve before we can figure out the best way to achieve it. Unless we know why we are doing this thing we can’t possibly figure out how best to do it.
It seems like an obvious thing to say, but let me say it anyway. What you are aiming to do will necessarily affect how you do it. That is to say, what you do is necessarily driven by what you are aiming to do. What you do should be driven by why you are doing it.
The problem we often have in our churches is that we get this backwards. Often, what we are doing is not driven in any way by why we might be doing it. In fact, why we are doing it is often little more than because it is what we do.
So, it is not uncommon to go into churches and find them doing all sorts of things. Sometimes some pretty peculiar things. When we ask why we are doing them and what are we trying to achieve by them, nobody is entirely sure. We are doing it because it is what has always been done. We may be doing it because someone once thought it was a good idea but the reasoning behind the idea have been lost in the mists of time. We are doing it because there was a good reason at the time we instituted it but that reason no longer exists but we kind of carried on doing it anyway.
Interestingly, some of these same sorts of impulses come up when somebody deigns to stop something that has always been done – or that has at least been done for ages – from being done anymore. It doesn’t matter what the thing is, or whether anybody has any reason for why it is still being done, we have always done this is the view that often prevails. I don’t have to justify the existence of the bizarre or irrelevant thing, you have to justify why you are determined to no longer do it. Apparently, I cannot fathom what its purpose is and you are doing very little to help me out with that does not compute.
Which brings me back to my original point. Why we are doing something ought to drive what we actually do. We ought to have a reason why we are doing everything that we do in church. If we aren’t entirely sure of the reason, it may be a prime candidate for something we are no longer going to do.
In order to have conversations that are helpful about this, we need to return to first principles. The ultimate reason for us to do anything as a church is because Jesus tells us that is what he wants his church to do. So, if Jesus says it, we ought to do (or not do) it. So, we have to think about what Jesus says his church exists to do. Why are we there and what does he want us to be doing? If we can’t answer that question first, we have no business moving onto thinking about how we might go about doing any of the things he wants us to do.