I love the church with which I am affiliated. It fits me. It fits my family. It provides a soil that is growing many varieties of good fruit in our lives. I am able to invest and I feel invested in. It is pressing us more into the gospel of Jesus.
I have been in church for the large majority of my 49+ years on this earth. And I have sat under a variety of preaching types, program emphases, adult and children’s programs, outreaches, mission emphases, and music philosophies. And I was thinking about why my current church is such a fit, why my family and I are growing as we are, and why our church has become the hub of our life.
The spoke in my wheel
For years, church was just another spoke in my wheel, a wheel that had many “important” spokes on it. It was not until I joined my current local body that I had this “life revelation” – nothing new in the realm of truth. Just new for me. Call it new insights.
And what I realized was this: the body of Christ with whom I interact each week, both within the actual building and without – IT is the hub of my life. Everything else in my life simply revolves around that hub. All interactions, all relationships, all pursuits are now orbiting around this body of Jesus in a new and vibrant way.
And it feels like the way it should be. It feels right. And it certainly dovetails with how Scripture speaks about our relationship to the church.
And after all of the “church” that I have experienced, there are two irreducible minimums that I have concluded about what I must have true about my local body for there to be a thriving experience.
Do you know what irreducible minimum means? It is defined as that which cannot be made more simple than it is. It is the basic ingredients for success – nothing more and nothing less.
The concept of irreducible minimum is a powerful one. And it is powerful because in an information age of “more is better,” that which is of great importance can become bogged down in other elements, all of which may be good, but are not the foundational requirements. If we do not learn how to view the essentials in our life through the lens of “what is the most basic foundation that I need to succeed in this area?” we are liable to begin looking like Martha in the book of Luke:
But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:41-42)
In other words, there are many good things we can do, but those good things can begin getting attached to the irreducible minimum and it is not too long before you have the “Top 50” elements of what makes something profitable.
For me, there are two irreducible minimums for a vibrant and engaging church experience: the first is dynamic gospel preaching and the second is a true sense of community.
The necessity of the gospel
Until I joined this body of believers, I never fully realized how much I desperately needed to understand that the gospel is not just what brought me to a knowledge of salvation.
Milton Vincent says it succinctly in The Gospel Primer:
The gospel serves as the means by which God daily constructs me into what He wants me to be and also serves as the channel through which He gives me my inheritance every day of my Christian life. Hence, it could be said that the gospel contains all that I need for life and godliness. It is for this reason that God tells me to be steadfastly entrenched in the gospel at all times and never to allow myself to be moved from there.
I remember talking to a Christian gentleman who once told me that the gospel was not all about life. Like somehow the gospel as “all of life” was an overuse of what the gospel was intended for. And I used to think that way as well. The gospel is most certainly all about life, and it affects my every thought, action, and interaction.
Every week, and I mean every week, I am confronted with the preaching that I sit under. And it does not matter which passage I am confronted with, our pastor always gives me a view of those verses through the lens of the gospel. And it is transforming me. It is transforming my family.
The preaching of the Bible in light of the power of the gospel is a “must have” for a body to be able to thrive, both personally and corporately. I have learned that simply getting up and discussing a verse is insufficient. For me, it is a weekly casting of God’s vision for my life through His gospel message; it is a truing of the rudder; it is a recalibration of my life.
And the gospel is a mission worth following.
The necessity of community
The other element that I have found is of profound necessity for thriving within a body of believers is the idea of being tightly connected as a community.
Within the last couple of years, I have come across the materials of Jeff Vanderstelt, who has led the SOMA leadership team. His training and resources have been a tremendous help to me in how to view what it means to be a true community. Vanderstelt uses the term missional community, and defines it as such:
A missional community is a family of missionary servants who make disciples who make disciples.
We were made for community. And the umbrella of community covers many topics that you might think are separate but really do fall under the idea of community.
Community is serving together.
Community is serving others.
Community is everyone knowing the “main thing” and all contributing to it.
Community is living life together.
Community is viewing every interaction as something strategic with the anticipation that God might use a simple question of “How are things going for you right now?” to open up an opportunity to present truth and help another think differently.
Community is taking the initiative to invest and being willing to be invested in.
For me and my family, gospel-saturated preaching and community exist in heavy doses. And because of these coexisting in strength and integrity, I feel the fulness and satisfaction that Jesus intended.
I know that was a lengthy segue into my post title, but it serves to make the point I am desiring.
There are a plethora of books out there about what authentic leadership looks like or what an effective team must have to flourish. If we are not careful, we can easily become paralyzed about all of the different elements that must be considered in order to have a strong and effective team.
And do not get me wrong – I love reading about how to shape and form a team for maximum effectiveness. But, like the caution I gave above, if everything is important to the forming of a team, then really nothing is important to the forming of a team.
In leading my team, I had better be honed in on what are the irreducible minimums; otherwise I may caught up in a lot of good things but not the best things, the foundational things, the essential things.
In my analogy above, there were two key and necessary elements for me in having an engaging and satisfying church experience: a clear casting of vision from our preaching pastor and having the feeling of community.
If you lead a team, are not these two the very same essential features that make for a team that you love being part of and is doing great things?
I would venture to say that if you have clarity from the leadership about what is important, why it is important and how it gets done, and you belong to community where the leadership is carefully crafting that community experience, then most likely you are satisfied with your “team experience.”
If either of these two areas is lacking, then most likely you are discouraged or dismayed about your “team experience.”
If we, in our leadership, focused on just these two irreducible minimums, I would dare say that our leadership would be transformational leadership.
To me, it is freeing to think about the irreducible minimum because it allows me to shed baggage that, while good, is not great. I cannot do everything well, but these two I must do well.
When viewing your leadership in this manner, see if your bulls eye becomes that much more clear. See if those you are leading respond differently and have an expanded framework of purpose, value, and mission.
I’d love to hear from you — please leave a reply below if you have any thoughts to add to the conversation.
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