10 Commitments of an Intentional Church – Go & Grow in 2018!
Maybe you’ve wondered, “What makes an “Intentional Church?” We’ve been conducting a study of our work with hundreds of churches. Over 60% of the churches are growing and on their journey of intentionality using Intentional GrowthPlanning as their church leadership system. There is so much to learn from these churches!
I thought it would be helpful to recognize and celebrate 10 significant commitments these growing, intentional churches are making. My prayer is that you would consider these commitments for your church in 2018.
First, let’s debunk the excuses. The following can NOT and will NOT prevent you from becoming (or help you become) an Intentional Church:
- Average attendance doesn’t matter.
- Stage of life doesn’t matter.
- Denomination doesn’t matter.
- Style of ministry doesn’t matter.
- Location doesn’t matter.
- The community you are in doesn’t matter.
- Portable or permanent doesn’t matter.
- Growing or stuck doesn’t matter.
- Multi-site or uni-site doesn’t matter.
- ________________ (fill in the blank) doesn’t matter.
Any church of any size, stage, style, town or denomination can begin this journey.
Let’s take our cues from this foundational Scripture in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, and God is bringing the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:6)
What are the commitments of a church ready to intentionally plant and water, while expecting Him to give the increase? Here are 10 top-level, defining commitments of an intentional church.
1. We will envision and plan for 15% growth per year or more! Five-year, double-vision. No compromises, no less. We realize it will be seasonal. Some years we will grow by more, some years we will grow by less. It doesn’t matter. This will be our prayerful expectation and the healthy tension we place in our vision and planning. We will pray, plan, and prepare for the Lord to move at this level knowing He can do immeasurably more than we’ve ever dreamed.
2. We will clarify our vision for double impact on a routine basis and ensure that our church understands where God is leading us. We will hold our vision loosely, take it very seriously, and refresh it often. We will commit to the work He is calling us to in the next season in order to see this vision become reality. We will align our team around this imperative work and organize ourselves to accomplish it.
3. We will commit to growth primarily through evangelism and not through transfers from other churches. We will make every effort to envision and equip our church family to prepare for, reach, and find the “one.” We will love and care for the “99,” but will make evangelism our bias and priority.
4. Our Weekend Worship Experience will be built to catalyze and capture spiritual decisions. The aim of our preaching and worship will be to move people toward Christ and the cross, or into a deeper relationship with Christ. Knowing that our weekend worship experience is a total experience, we will pay close attention to all the details in this experiential chain of events – especially from a Primary Newcomer’s perspective.
5. We will make an effort to clarify our Primary Newcomer(s) while understanding that God put our church in a specific location, during THIS season, to reach the surrounding people with the Gospel of Christ. We will seek to understand our community, or “reach zone,” and design our ministry around an understanding of the “bullseye” unbeliever and his or her family in order to reach them. We will endeavor to maintain relevance to our community as it changes.
6. We will design and build an Engagement Pathway for our Primary Newcomer. We will prioritize building and maintaining a simple pathway for connecting unbelieving Newcomers to our church. We will build our pathway on the “baby step” principle and obsessively work to improve the path, breaking it down into simple steps Newcomers will take. We know that if we do not connect them to Christ and us, we will have lost our chance to impact them with the Gospel.
7. We will prioritize the building of life-changing relationships among our people in a way that reflects Acts 2:42ff. Our small groups, Sunday schools classes, or other discipleship and teaching venues will focus as much on relationships as they do on teaching. We will seek to foster and build deep relationships that the Lord will use to change the lives of our people.
8. Our outreach and community impact efforts will be as much about developing our people as they are about changing our community. Our call is to develop our church and increase their selflessness in the name of Christ. Our outward efforts will not be un-stewarded, but purposefully designed to accomplish the Great Commission. Our outreach will focus on reaching people for Christ while developing our people as disciples of Christ.
9. We will call our people to deepen their surrender to Christ. We will measure and monitor whether this “deepening” is happening in our church, and adjust as necessary to see that it is always happening. We realize it is the Lord’s job to create disciples, but we can partner with Him by providing deeper and deeper steps of surrender and involvement in the body of Christ.
10. We will create a growth-oriented culture in our church. The growth of our people, our church, and our Kingdom impact will be of ongoing concern to us. We will plan and prepare for growth and thus plan and prepare for the inevitable change that growth brings. Change will become normal to our church in time – we will pray for it, expect it, and anticipate it is coming again and again.
Imagine if your church were to make these commitments in 2018. You would never regret it! Where should you start? What should you do? Pray first? Ignite the fires of evangelism? Prepare the hearts of your leadership and people? I trust the Holy Spirit will lead you to the place to begin, and maybe we can join you and figure it out together.
Some of you have experienced what it means to be an intentional church. Some of you haven’t. We built Intentional Churches to support, train, and equip a movement of churches that would shamelessly advance the Gospel “in their neck of the woods.” No one church can do it all, but each can make these commitments and begin an intentional journey of accomplishing the Great Commission. Why not give it a go in 2018!
We are praying for an incredible season of planting and watering in the coming year. We can’t wait to hear the stories of how God brings the increase.