5 Questions for the Church to Ask Itself

     I need to start by giving full credit here.  I took a church renewal course led by our (FMCIC) friend Betty Pries.  She offered up these questions that I believe are worth considering for any church.  To be clear, the questions are hers but the comments are mine.  No need to blame her for all of this. Ready?

1)  Who are we?

This can be a demographic question.  This can also be a resource question that helps us think through the gifts and abilities available in our midst.  But, it should also be a question that helps us study and wrestle with what “church” is.  What was/is God’s intention for His church?  How are we doing with that?

2)  Who is our neighbour?

Who is around us?  Who is “the other” near us?  Who are we called to befriend, love and serve so as to point them towards Jesus?

3)  Why are we here?

This is similar to question one as it deals with the nature of the church.  But it can also be an evaluative question.  What is the purpose of this program or ministry or small group or…. you get the point.  A great follow up question would be something along the lines of “Are we accomplishing our purpose?”  Does our outreach really reach out?  If our small groups are the disciple making strategy, are they really making disciple makers?

4)  What shall we do?

With what we have learned.  What is God calling us to?  How do we respond so we are stepping fully into His plan and purpose for His church?  In general, as the Church and specifically as “this church”.  By the way, the answer here is not always “start a new program”, “pray more”, or “jump on the latest trend”.  It is more often about obedience and actually living out the things God has asked us to do and being who God has asked us to be.  Yes, something may need to get started or adjusted, or maybe even stopped, but the heart of this is about being who we have been created and called to be, not doing more.

5) “Who do you say that I am?”

Betty asked this one last but I might move it to the top if this was my list, because this informs how we answer the rest.  Who is God?  Not “my God” as we hear so often.  God.  We need to be learning and discussing and responding together.  And as we wrestle this through and adjust our lives to live in response to this, it will have a major effect on how we view His church, how we carry out the call to make disciples, how we love our neighbours, and how we evaluate what we do. 

     LifePlan or any good ministry planning or evaluation tool helps us touch on these questions, but when they were presented the way they were, they struck me. So, I am sharing these questions with you.  Spend some time on them.  If you want a real challenge, change we (your church) to I (you).  Who am I?  Who is my neighbour?  Why am I where I am (work, school, neighborhood, church)?  What shall I do (what has God created and called me to do)?  And who do I say God is?  That last one is still worked out best in community, but it is good to ask yourself that, test what you think against Scripture and then respond with your life.

     Why ask the “I” question instead of the “we” question?  Well ask both, but if we only ask the “we” question we can talk ourselves out of lots of things that God may be asking us to do.  After all, we are the church.  You and me.  The people of God.  Me.  I.  So, I need to wrestle these questions through and respond to my Heavenly Father.  I hope you will join me.

Marc McAlister
Director of Leadership Development and Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.