How long has it been since the people in your church, ministry, or organization were challenged with something bigger than themselves?
When was the last time they sensed a need to sacrifice for the greater good? If people don’t have anything worth dying for (at least in the figurative sense of personal sacrifice), they really don’t have anything worth living for. When was the last time your people sensed that they were involved in something that was transforming lives for the better? I’ve observed that every four to five years, a church needs to be challenged with a really big initiative.
Something that reminds them that they’re part of something larger than themselves, something that costs them a part of their lives, something that reminds them of the sacrifices of the early believers. Knowing that his mission of bringing the Kingdom to earth would be effectuated through building his ekklesia (translated as church, but more properly a gathering of people “called out” for a specific purpose), Jesus fired up his disciples with an outrageous claim:
“The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it.”
John 14:12 (The Message)
Can you imagine the passion—and perhaps not a small bit of terror(!)—that those challenging words catalyzed in that ragtag group of disciples? They had been astounded and emboldened by the transrational encounters they had witnessed Jesus doing. It was so beyond the norm that the religious leaders accused him of practicing sorcery.
The Talmud—a collection of commentaries by Jewish scholars completed around the 5th century—mentions the man Yeshua (Jesus) who was executed “on Passover’s eve for practicing sorcery and leading Israel into apostasy.” The problem was not simply his moral teaching, but the powerful encounters that accompanied him and his outrageous claim to be the son of God.
Effective leaders know that periodically their followers need to be challenged with something that is beyond their abilities at an individual level.
Is your church (or team, department, or ministry area) lagging in passion? Has a dull acceptance of the status quo settled in? Is there a growing sense of “organizational boredom,” a ho-hum approach to the mission of God? When was the last time your team sensed the need for a Big Challenge?