Years ago, a staff member of a church told me that after significant study and prayer, on behalf of the leadership team of the church, their pastor launched a new statement with regard to mission and vision. The statement read: “It’s not about us.” There was so much kickback that a short time later the statement was amended to read: “It’s not just about us.”
Let me state at the outset that the reality is it’s about Jesus. His mission. His work, His values, what He wants, what He is doing in our community, but that wasn’t what got the pastor in trouble. People are more than willing to put Jesus ahead of self; it’s putting their neighbors ahead of self that kicks sleeping sacred cows.
What about putting others ahead of ourselves? What if our schedules need to change? What if our approaches need to change? What if our methods need to change? What if leadership needs to change? What if the sacred cow really isn’t sacred?
I’m not talking about watering down or changing the Gospel. As a matter of fact, I’m talking about returning to it.
The most difficult reality a local church faces is not the distance she must move with regard to structures, methods, programming, and schedule in order to reach un-churched, de-churched, or non-churched people; it’s what has to happen to her heart before she’ll even consider it.
Consider below four variables on the “It’s not about us” question.
1. "It’s not about us." Clear. Definable. Easy to remember. Not much need to elaborate here, a clear filter for change, action, and the mission of the church. We will do whatever it takes short of sin, in order to reach outsiders. #nosacredcows #sacredcowsmakegreathamburger
2. “It’s not just about us.” A governor on the engine of commitment, this statement makes it about us first, but after that we need to focus on reaching lost people. This statement is great for a church that wants to focus on reaching lost people occasionally or on special days. There are however, some sacred cows. #coexistwithsacredcows #arewehindu?
3. “It’s not about us, but…” Making room for a governor on commitment when the purposed action seems too costly to insiders and needs to be reconsidered. There might be some sacred cows so tread lightly and revert back to statement #2 if you discover one. #theremightbesacredcowswatchwhereyoustep #throwthecowabone
4. “It’s about us.” Clear. Definable. Easy to remember. Not much need to elaborate here, a clear filter for change, action, and the mission of the church. If people want to come along, fine, but we’re not going to change in order to facilitate it. The cow is sacred. The cow rules. Feed the cow. Pet the cow. Stare at the cow. Protect the cow. Talk about the cow when you rise up and when you lay down. When your children ask you; “What is the meaning of the cow?” tell them to shut up and worship the cow. #i❤sacredcows #putthecowdownslowlyandstepaway
I’ve never met with a church leadership team who said they didn’t want their church to grow. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I have met with leadership teams who would talk about a growing church down the street and say, “I don’t want us to be like them.” When I questioned what it was about “them” that we didn’t want to be “like,” and then lifted away layers of false perceptions, the issue was size…growth.
If that’s where you are, congratulations, you need never worry about becoming like “them.” If that’s not who you are, then which statement will you choose?
Be careful, think about it, and consider (Philippians 2) before you decide.