Tag Archive: mission

Sandwich Board Guys and Church Methodology

sandwich baord

I had visceral feelings when I noticed him. I’d seen this guy before, but not in years, and not in my neighborhood. The feelings his presence and message elicited were strong, perhaps sinful. Standing at the corner of the intersection, with a sandwich board draped over his shoulders, his board’s message declared: “Believe on Jesus. Repent or burn!” Ironically, my reaction to his message made me need to repent (but not for my salvation). I have my reasons for believing his methodology is poor, and maybe you do too. I find it to be:

  • Outdated
  • Offensive
  • Rapport and relationship killing
  • Disconnected with the gospels. I have a hard time seeing Jesus carrying his message that way
  • Ineffective. While I have no hard evidence, I doubt many people have seen such a sign, gotten out of their cars, walked up to the sign carrier and said, “Tell me more about believing on Jesus.” However, I’m sure many people have walked up to these sign carriers to say or do other things, other than inquire about Jesus.

But his message and methodology did cause me to think about our church’s methodologies. Not just for evangelism, but also for the many other things we do.

Likely, this particular man’s message and methodology were more about his own personality than Jesus’.

Which got me thinking… Does our church’s programming reflect our personality rather than Jesus’? Does our church’s ethos reflect our church’s DNA rather than Jesus’ DNA?

How many of the things our churches do, your church does, are personality driven? Are our ministries created and perpetuated by the pastor’s or staff member’s likeable personality, or by their alignment with Biblical expectations?

How many of our methods are out of touch with Biblical mandates? For the sake of being progressive and living in a post-modern world, have we created missions, messages, and methodologies that have sharply diverted from Jesus’ mission (e.g., Matt 28:19-20, Luke 4:18-19, Acts 1:8)?

Have we become just another sandwich board guy, using methods that are offensive (to Jesus) and ineffective?

I suggest we pray and take inventory of our mission and methodologies, and consider if they’re relevant to Jesus. Ask yourself this: If Jesus had one opportunity to share his message to the world through our church, would he use the methods you’re using?

p.s. I’ll give the sandwich board guy some credit; at least he works his method. I have a methodology for sharing Jesus that I think is superior to his, but I don’t always do it. Once you’ve determined the method that best reflects Jesus, work it.

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When Success = Lost Focus

Out of the blue, Mary had agreed to go on a date with me.  Not just any Mary, but Mary Hallums, who was arguably the “hottest girl” in the 10th grade (language I used in high school).

Internally, I was still waiting to appear on an MTV episode of “Punked,” but decided externally to act like I was a worthy recipient of Mary’s attention.

It was just a few years (or more) before things started going viral online, but I still somehow created a viral-like buzz at Sahuaro High School.

Short of printing t-shirts to pass out, I let everyone know about our scheduled date. But three days before the date, my cockiness caught up to me.

In a packed library, with an open staircase, I made my way down the stairs and noticed a serendipitous moment approaching. My ex-girlfriend (my choice, of course) and my soon-to-be date, Mary, stood together at the card catalog (those sub-35 years of age—just Google it) at the base of the stairs.

While preparing to unveil my cocky smirk to declare my date-dominance, I cleared my throat to gain their attention, but then it happened. My focus on the girls caused me to miss a stair. Actually, I missed one stair, and rolled down the other fifteen.

When success happens in churches, misguided focus is a real threat. And like me, a church can stumble.

It looks like this:

• A church has God’s spirit on it and people begin getting saved in records numbers. All the staff become focal points of how’d-you-do-it questions from others and they lose sight of God and their kingdom goals.

• A pastor uses his God-given gift of preaching effectively and gains national attention—book deals, interviews, and subsequently, sub-par sermons not infused with the Spirit.

• Your church figures out how to care for the community effectively. People notice and you create a conference to tell people how to do it. But the conference uses all your resources and you no longer pass the church’s resources to the community.

There would‘ve been nothing wrong with a date with Mary. But a date with the “hottest girl” shouldn’t have taken my attention from the important thing in that moment—in my case, the next stair.

There’s nothing wrong with passing along best practices, hosting conferences, great preaching, or even God-given success. But don’t allow your ministry successes to take away from what God has called you to focus on.

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