God's creativity is amazing. With 7 billion people on our planet, no two fingerprints are alike. No two people are alike.
And, no two congregations are alike. But too often we try to make "our ministry" look like "another ministry," because we like the "success" of that ministry. The problem is that you cannot clone congregations. And when one tries, we lose the uniqueness that God built into that particular congregation. Leaders who try to emulate someone else's ministry not only are chasing an impossible dream but they are denying the uniqueness that God intentionally built into their church.
Plastic surgeons get patients all the time who want to change something so that they can look like some celebrity who is rated as the picture of what a beautiful person should look like. They are chasing a dream that is not real. And, usually not necessary.
Church leaders do it as well - by trying to become something they are not. Just as people chase a dream with plastic surgery - when they use it to emulate someone else - so church leaders can be caught in the same trap.
Success for every congregation is living out the Great Commandment and serving the Great Commission. It is not found in the particular program, music style or the number of people we can gather on a particular weekend.
The fingerprint of a congregation is a unique blend of its ministry philosophy, history, geography and neighborhood, the gifting of its people, its vision, and the gifting of its leaders. And, because of its unique fingerprint, God will use it in unique ways. In fact, it is in a diversity of ministries that the church will be most effective and reach the broadest swath of people.
If we can celebrate diversity of ethnicities and the uniqueness of each individual, why cannot we celebrate the diversity of congregations: large, small, in-between, house church, cell church, ethnic, traditional, non-traditional, seeker driven, seeker sensitive, inner city, suburban, rural, high church, low church, or just church!
We ought to be all that God made us to be and maximize our unique potential and commit to health, honoring Christ, becoming like Christ, living out the Great Commandment and committed to the Great Commission. And celebrate the unique opportunity that God has given us as a congregation.
God would be delighted if:
We could learn from one another but not try to be one another.
We would celebrate one another's ministry and not covet the unique mandate of another church.
In our success we would not assume that other ministries should look like us - leadership hubris.
We would gladly cooperate with one another and not be threatened by one another.
We humbly claimed our place in ministry and maximized our opportunity as a congregation.
He would be delighted because he has given every congregation a unique fingerprint. Celebrate it. Maximize its uniqueness. Don't try to be someone God did not make you to be.
I am privileged to work with many different kinds of churches. I am always amazed at the creativity and passion of healthy leaders and the unique ways they are making a difference for Christ. I learn something new with every church I consult with. It is in our uniqueness that we are effective, learn new ways of reaching people, innovate and reach those God has called us to reach.