Blankets and Broccoli

The tenth characteristic of a Genesis Church is that it self-evaluates and communicates results to various levels of leadership (local, district, etc.), making changes when indicated.  

 Photo found at  musicalpathways.net

Photo found at musicalpathways.net

“Again!” he said, squealing with delight.

Pulling the blanket back to my side, I heard him burst out into an expectation-filled laughter that filled the room.   My hands moved quickly, and within an instant, the blanket designed with little giraffes and hippos was thrown over his head again.  His giggle quickly subsided. 

“Where’s Elijah? Where’s Elijah?” I asked in the most curious voice I could muster up.

His little 16-month old body was just slightly trembling, much like a cup of gelatin that just won’t stay still, no matter how much you want it to. 

As I lifted the blanket up to reveal his smiling face once again, I said the magic words that brought forth the enchanted laughter, “THERE HE IS!”

Why do little ones love Peek-a-boo so much?  Such a simple game, but for decades, maybe centuries, it’s thrilled so many! Child development professionals tell us that part of the reason is because when the blanket is over a young child’s head (or even just closing their eyes!) they think that things actually cease to exist.  And when their beloved mom appears “right before their eyes”, it provokes reason for extreme joy –she came back!

Could it be that some congregations are stuck in a never-ending game of Peek-a-boo?  Are we simply trying to “throw a blanket” over things that need to change, really believing that they are going to go away?  Unfortunately, “throwing a blanket” over programs that are ineffective, discipleship that is stagnated, or conflict in the church board (just to name a few) doesn’t make them go away.  And for sure it doesn’t result in enchanted laughter. 

The tenth characteristic of a Genesis Church is that it self-evaluates and communicates results to various levels of leadership (local, district, etc.), making changes when indicated.  Let’s quickly unpack that sentence; because it’s got a lot of good stuff I don’t want you to miss.

I’m going to borrow an image from James, because I think it’s a great illustration of self-evaluation and communication.  In the first chapter of his book, in a cautionary tone, he likens some believers to a person looking in a mirror, only to turn away from the mirror and quickly forget what he saw.  When my husband preaches this passage, he always uses the image of a piece of broccoli sticking in your front teeth – something you would NEVER miss if looking in a mirror, and IMMEDIATELY would fix. 

A missional church needs to look at everything in the mirror! 

If all teeth are pearly white, we continue moving forward with the good work, but if we have broccoli in our teeth, it’s time to make a change.  Please, friends.  Don’t just leave the broccoli in your teeth.

Even though it’s embarrassing for me to have to point it out, I love you too much to let you walk around with broccoli in your teeth.  Have you found any of these things occurring in your church? If so, can I politely suggest that these deserve some changes to be made?

An annual pastor’s report with zero conversions reported (by the way, conversions is not JUST the pastor’s job, but that’s another topic for another blog).

A church board that has not given a local or district ministry license to anybody in the congregation in the past 6 months.

An average member of the congregation does not know the names of the people in the immediate neighborhood.

A financial report that indicates that no money has been received for global mission engagement.

A congregation that is divided over evangelism strategies, service times, music selection, or the color of paint for the walls.

Even though the mirror shows us things that make us uncomfortable sometimes, we don’t blame the mirror.  We don’t get rid of it because it shows the zit on our forehead or the broccoli in our teeth.  We are responsive to it.  We heed it’s instruction because it’s a tool that makes us more confident and allows us to fully be who we desire to be.  Self-evaluation in our congregation is the same way – we shouldn’t be afraid of honestly filling out reports or asking questions of “why.”  These are tools that serve to make us better, allowing us to identify areas in which we need to make some changes so that God’s kingdom continues to expand on earth.  

So, now that we’ve removed any Peek-a-boo blankets AND broccoli in our teeth, it’s time to move forward in ministry.  Much like a mirror is a tool in our everyday life, allow self-evaluation to be the same – pull it out everyday, allowing God to mold you and your congregation into the people God fully desires you to be.

After all, a Genesis Church self-evaluates and communicates results to various levels of leadership (local, district, etc.), making changes when indicated.  

- Emily Armstrong, missionary in the Church of the Nazarene