Is your church stuffing its own face?

October 9, 2012

Is your church a couch potato?

Having led churches, planted churches and worked as a evangelist/strategist supporting churches since the mid 90’s, I’ve started to notice some fairly obvious signs that inform me as to whether a church is a lean mean mission machine or a spiritual couch potato. In a nutshell, is your church more concerned with stuffing its own face than getting out there? Here are some bullet points to chew on;

1) What are people getting hot under the collar and wound up about in church members meetings? Is it stuff like the church building, finances, constitution, budgets? If yes, then it’s a couch potato. By contrast, when was the last time people got wound up in a meeting because not enough people were meeting Jesus or that the needs of the poorest in the community were not being met?

2) How is commitment as a follower of Jesus measured? Is it by attendance at some kind of church meeting or is it whether that person is living for Christ in their daily sphere of influence?

3) What sort of testimonies are shared at the front, if any? Do they speak of living for Jesus in the rough and tumble of everyday living?

3) Who are considered to be the missionaries? If your church has a missionary board that defines mission as “out in some remote place somewhere,” then most likely it’s not educating people or celebrating the fact that they are on mission where they live and work. (Burn those boards and destroy them without mercy).

4) Who does the church pray for and who makes it onto the prayer list? If it’s mostly the clergy and the sick then something’s wrong. If you do make it onto the prayer list because you are speaking at a drop in meeting or daytime bible study but never got prayed for re your working life then that’s a sign that the church is in a bubble. If the church does pray for those in the work place but its normally people in the caring professions, then its defining the more caring professions as “Christian”. What’s that all about? When was the last time the church prayed for van drivers and accountants etc? In other words, is the church asking for and accepting the workforces’ money but hardly ever praying for them?

5) What percentage does your church give to “mission”? Couch potato churches give a strict 10% or under to tick a box. If you argue that your own structures are about mission then do some honest analysis of who the activities are reaching and serving.

6) Who is commissioned and ordained into service for Jesus? The clergy/pastors or everyone wherever they are? Do we commission people whenever there’s a job change or ordain people as Jesus’ ambassadors from the school gate to the factory floor?

7) Does the church employ an evangelism equipper and enabler?

8) What proportion of money is spent on sound and visuals as opposed to local evangelism?


  1. tc says:

    I understand your (and CVM more generally) antipathy to the ‘missionary board’ which I hear you express so regularly, and agree that those in foreign fields shouldn’t be held up as the only missionaries. BUT, I think you’re being disingenuous in ignoring the very real differences and difficulties that exist in serving cross culturally, in a different language, and often a long way way from home. Those in the congregation at home have every opportunity to share with others about their situation, to chat over coffee, talk face to face, speak up in a time of testimony and so on and so on. A ‘missionary board’ is a great way of keeping those NOT physically present in people’s minds and prayers. People who may be feeling particularly cut off, particularly estranged from Christian fellowship, particularly distant from friends and family.

    So yes, once as a humorous observation on church culture and thinking is a good reminder that we’re all missionaries. But this continual knocking it as though it’s somehow intrinsically evil, is a great disservice to some who may have made a terrific sacrifice above and beyond my comfortable mission field – difficult though it can be at times – at a local workplace where I operate in my own culture, language, comfort zone and go home to my family.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Is there a Part 2 to this Carl and where can I find it? Thanks

  3. Cheryl says:

    Is there a Part 2 to this Carl and where can I find it? Thank you.

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