by Terry Camsey, Grandfather –
If you took a group of people and persuaded them to become as fit as they could possibly be, the prescription would be different for each person, based on the personal challenges each faces—weight, state of health, will power, attitude, importance each attaches to the challenge…a “one size” solution would not fit all for a number of reasons. Sure, there are ways offered that will practically guarantee you lose weight but far more than weight contributes to optimum health.
It is the same with churches of all denominations. A solution that works for one church will not necessarily work in another due to a number of variables…they may not have a leader with the same skills as a thriving church…the context and community in which they minister may be vastly different…they may not have the resources…and so on.
Plus, for those churches to try to emulate mega-churches, they can easily mistakenly assume that it is the methods that produce the results, rather than the unique application to accomplish principles behind the methods.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said:
but principles are few.
The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.
The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
Let me illustrate in a context we understand. Open air meetings were a highly effective method of making Booth’s principle of taking the gospel to the people a reality. If open air meetings are not as effective today in some locations the question becomes, “Can they be made effective in today’s context?” Maybe choosing a different location, at a different time, with different music and message couched in terms understood today by the unchurched target population might help.
But, if not, the question then becomes, “How can we apply that basic principle in a more effective way?” Seeking new ways of applying the principle rather than dropping the method and with it a key principle.
Yet still, many keep working at methods that have long since lost the effectiveness they once had.
Or try to copy what Saddleback or Willow Creek do—despite the fact that their resources and context are very different. If only we would instead look at the underlying principles of the methods of those churches and see whether—in the context of our own local resources—we might find ways to apply those same principles.
There is no magic bullet. The Lord knows many have sought such for years: attending seminars, buying new product or books, pulling in external consultants.
Peter F. Drucker suggests that every three years an organization should put every activity on trial for its life asking (I paraphrase) whether it is still effective, or can be made so, and—if not—what can be substituted. If you were starting all over today, he suggests, would you be doing the same things in the same way?
Would you? Do you?
Who was it who said that insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results?