A number of years ago I came across an article that spoke to church leaders about fostering positive momentum in the church. The author wrote about indicators of victory and indicators of defeat. If a congregation focused on the negative, what it lacked and where it failed, listeners would very quickly see that faith community as a failing entity. If a church let everything fall apart and did nothing to be a “city on a hill” for its community, its lethargy and misdirection became a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. The author pointed out that doom, gloom, negativity and apathy will breed disillusionment and departure. People do not want to be part of a failing or purposeless venture.

But if a ministry highlighted its victories, celebrated its unique gifts and gave thanks for even small increments of fulfilling Jesus’ mission, an amazing thing happened. People got on board. They became supportive and encouraging. They were filled with hope and motivated for action.

People respond to indicators of victory and indicators of defeat. The author posed a question I never forgot: “What indicators do you see in your church?”

It’s a fitting question for each one of us. What indicators is our church presenting to the community and world?

-Is it inward looking or focused on being a good neighbor to the community?
-Does it foster suspicion or nurture trust?
-Is it veering into structural and political wrangling or disciplining itself to stay on mission?
-Is it seeking control or giving permission?
-Does it call attention to itself or does it work to make new heroes?
-Is it content to become stagnant or is it striving to take measured risks?
-Is it afraid of a new generation or does it see the current dramatic changes as an opportunity?
-Is it refusing to release ministry to more people or is it passing the baton?
-Is it criticizing change or is it adapting to new contexts and seasons?

The church on earth isn’t perfect and will always encounter struggle. But how might the church display indicators that will help people rejoice in the gift of new life in Jesus?

By: Rev. Michael W. Newman
Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area C