Don’t Try To Create a Balanced Church

One of the conversations that church leaders will sometimes find themselves in is how do you create a balance between ministry to the church family and ministry outside the church family? We tend to divide our ministries into these two primary groups sometimes defining them as: equipping the saints and reaching the lost. And there is definitely a biblical reason for this. In Matthew 28, Jesus defined disciple-making essentially as 1) leading people into a relationship with Jesus and 2) helping the new believer obey the teachings of Jesus.

For churches that want to live out the Great Commission the challenge now becomes how do you create a healthy balance between the two? Most churches tend to have a natural bent toward one over the other. And so we find ourselves constantly trying to balance between equipping the saints (sometimes called discipleship) and reaching the lost (sometimes called evangelism).

But when Jesus commissioned the Apostles, I do not believe he was placing upon the church two separate areas that we are trying to balance. I believe he has given us one area: disciple-making and we are to invest whatever time and effort it takes to lead people into maturity in Christ which is the goal of making disciples.

When we read the life of Jesus in the Gospels, you never have the sense that Jesus is trying to balance evangelism with discipleship. He was drawing people into a relationship with Him and calling them into the mission of Christ. The mission of Christ that we are called into is to lead people into a relationship with Christ and then see them enter into the mission of Christ. That mission will involve teaching and and equipping and serving and loving and worshipping. When we are following Jesus, we are involved in the mission of Jesus for the glory of Jesus.

One of the ways that my wife and I build relationships with our neighbors is by hosting an annual ‘Ice Cream In The Neighborhood’ party in our driveway. The event has multiple parts: setting the date, inviting neighbors, buying the ice cream and supplies, putting together the event in the driveway and hanging out with neighbors. Now the event has one purpose: get to know our neighbors. But there are several elements to the event. So how much do we invest in each area? Well, however long it takes to accomplish that area. Our goal isn’t to balance the amount of time we spend buying ice cream with the amount of time we spend talking with our neighbors. Our goal is to spend whatever time it takes to accomplish the purpose of the event.

As a church, our goal isn’t to teach the Bible. Our goal isn’t to be doing evangelism. Our goal is to accomplish the task of making disciples which will involve sharing the Gospel, equipping new believers and exhorting the mature believers. And we are not trying to balance those areas with each other. We are trying enter into the mission of Christ and use whatever time and energy is required in those areas to accomplish the task of disciple-making.

Now there may be times that you focus on one area over another because you are trying to developing or exercise a particular spiritual muscle within the church. Maybe discipling the new believer has been a weakness and you reocgnize that new believers are not entering into the mission of Christ. There may be a season in which you want to spend more time and resources teaching and equipping the church to disciple those who are new in your faith. But you are making that focus because it accomplishes the greater goal of making disciples.

Don’t worry about trying to create balance in your church. At the end of day, we have to be asking the questions: are we following Jesus and engaged in the mission of Christ?