There Is No Magic Bullet

There is a pill for just about everything under the sun.  If you have high blood pressure, you take this pill; if you have anxiety, you take that pill.  There are even medicines that grow eyelashes longer.  If you have the aliment there more than likely a medical procedure, treatment or pill for it.

The constant search for ease is not just in curing what ails us.  Weight loss pills claim that the fat will “melt away” with no exercise while eating everything from pizza to ice cream.  Home gadgets claim to organize our lives, make it able for us to clean less and have more time for family and friends.  There are thousands of organization and time management apps and programs available for people to use.

People are looking for that one fire way to fix the problem they have; they are looking for the “magic bullet” or the one thing that will solve all of their problems.  Some people look for it in plastic surgery, some people look for it in money and some people look for it illicit drugs.

But just as many people look for the “magic bullet” for their own lives, congregations around the world are seeking that elusive “magic bullet.”   Churches are looking for that one thing that will bring them to their goal, whatever it might be.  For most churches that I have been a part of the one thing they are looking for are ways to get “the young people” to their church.  Their rationale is a good one; they want to ensure that the church that they have worshipped in and loved for so long will remain after they are no longer here on Earth.  Churches have tried all sorts of things to draw in this particular segment of the population.

Well friends, I am sorry to say, there is no magic bullet when it comes to ministry.

There is not special formula or combination of words that will make ministry easier, better, more effective.  You could have the best preacher in the world, the best music and the great facility but if the presence of God is not felt within the walls of the church or from the people attending, you will have a hard time filling that building each week.

For some churches they have found something that works; it might have been a specialized ministry or even a particular program.  The fallacy that many other churches fall into is that one church’s ministry and results can be duplicated at another church.    You have probably seen it before, one church builds a new fellowship hall with gymnasium, and six months later another church in the town is doing the same thing to “keep up with the Jones.”   Why?  Because they believe that is the magic bullet.

Ministry is one of those things that is similar to a lot of other churches but yet distinctly individual.  On one hand all churches believe in God and Jesus as God’s son, but how this is lived out may look completely different.  Catholics believe in the transformation of the bread and wine during Eucharist to flesh and blood, while other Christian denominations believe it more a remembrance act or a memorial.  Is one more correct than the other?  No, rather it is a matter of how ones faith is lived out.

This is the same understanding that must be applied when it comes to ministry.  Every church even within the same denomination or even the same town will have different ministry focuses.  One church might more international mission minded while another congregation might be more focused on the homeless in their town.  Both churches are trying to live out the gospel in their own unique way.

For congregations today, the focus must not be on what another church is doing to bring in people but rather on what God is calling that particular collection of followers of Christ to be and become.  This is no simple task, rather is one that will take serious time and devotion.  However, once the time is invested I believe that God will reveal in time the direction a congregation is to go and do not be surprised of the answers you receive.