Back to the Basics

Sam Rainer

February 6, 2007

I am by nature a planner. I make lists. I cross things off the list when I am done. It all makes sense in my head. My family, however, consistently pokes fun at my anal retentiveness. Maybe it is the yellow post-it note of lists that I carry on my person at all times. My wife knows the one way to drive me mad is to hide my list of things to do – they are my lifeline. I wander aimlessly through the day without them.

So when it comes to vacation, I am the guy who has the spreadsheet detailing all of the planned events down to every thirty minutes, including travel destinations and mile marker ETAs (note: I am not speaking in hyperbole; I have actually done this before).

My brother recently got engaged. He has asked that my other brother and I be the best men. Needless to say, I am being left in the dark on the bachelor party planning. I think they said something about wanting to have fun. I say what’s more fun than planning all the fun that you plan on having?

As a pastor, I have to avoid the terrible trap of too much planning. I know firsthand that churches can make themselves overly complex. In fact, I don’t think that bureaucracy is one of the more prevalent commands in Scripture. Thinking a plan through is time well spent. Thinking about planning how to plan a plan for the committee formation of planning the plan is time wasted.

We as Christians are called to action. Our churches should evangelize the lost and serve the community. So how do churches get back to the basics of reaching their communities? LifeWay Research asked this question in a recent study of churches. Only a few churches stood out. But the answers are simple. Below are some of the results:

In their survey they uncovered that the pastor sets the bar. If the pastor is intentional about evangelism and leads by example, then the church is likely to make it a priority as well. And the correlation between standout churches and pastor tenure was high. So, not only does the pastor have show the people of the church he walks the talk, the church must also know that he is in it for the long run.

Churches that have had success winning people to Christ year-after-year also have pastors who include the gospel message in almost every sermon. Surprise! In order to see people come to Christ we must actually do the telling part of the Great Commission.

Genuine worship trumps style. Not only did these standout churches have varying worship styles, sermon styles varied too. In the end, it is the authenticity of the church that mattered.

So maybe it’s time to put away the lists and yellow post-it notes for an evening, actually reach out to the community, and simply tell someone about Jesus…no spreadsheets required.

5 comments on “Back to the Basics”

  1. Brian says:

    I’m expecting great things…

    I believe that evangelism is a part of the bigger goal of discipleship as the Great Commission lays out…thoughts?

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    Yes, Brian, without discipleship churches do not assimilate people well. Thus the adage – the back door is just as large as the front.

  3. kdb1411 says:

    As I understand it, discipleship and evangelism should not be compartmentalized. When Jesus said to go and make disciples, He was telling us to evangelize, to bapitize, and to teach. In that sense neither evangelism nor discipleship is the bigger goal; they are so inseparable that our Lord would issue His command expecting one to flow from the other. BTW, your words are on target. The research you cited reminds us that we can become enamored with the peripheral and forget the basics. Thanks.

  4. Christie says:

    I too have tripped over my own post-it notes. I make very extensive lists, and it’s so great to have something tangible to see what is done and to be done. Perhaps those of us who are in the “my family makes fun of my vacation list” club could use actually adding spiritual disciplines and outreach opportunities to the list.

  5. Brian,

    I think they are both a part of disciplemaking which we see laid out in Matthwe 28:18-19. Both are equally important functions of the Church.

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