The best church modelers do not attempt to draw attention to themselves through some brilliant and innovative experiment.
The best modelers intently struggle to design solutions that provide the right environment for people to connect with God and experience the life He has planned for them.
A piece of my personal story
At the age of twenty-seven I was called to pastor a small and struggling church. Behind a youthful smile I was also struggling – with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. I felt incapable as a communicator and inferior as a manager of all the various workings of a church.
The one thing I did very well was sleep. Almost never did I wake up during the night, unless the baby was crying and Joan elbowed me with “it’s your turn”.
It was in this context that I had a life changing middle-of-the-night experience. I remember waking at 2 am and feeling alert for no obvious reason. As I lay there pondering what was going on, these words passed through my mind, “get out of bed; I have something to say to you”.
Obediently, I slipped quietly out of bed, navigated the darkness to the family room, and intuitively knelt beside the sofa with the prayer, “I’m ready for whatever you want to tell me”.
What happened next was not what I expected. Somewhere in my consciousness I heard, “I’m putting a shepherd’s heart in you”. Instantly, tears flowed as my whole being opened to receive God’s gift.
Wow, I still feel the emotion of that moment – tears blurring my eyes as I write – and I bring that passion to this project. I want everything I do and influence others to do to honor the Good Shepherd who is the ultimate recipient of our efforts.
4 characteristics of good church modelers
There are certain prerequisite qualities of an effective church designer. They all have to do with core motivations.
Looking at shepherd role models like Moses, David, and Jesus we get a clear sense of foundational characteristics that drive divinely approved leadership.
Church modelers must possess these qualities in order to properly shape the church into what Jesus wants it to be in their context.
Like good shepherds, modelers are:
• Protective – fiercely alert and poised to shield the people from injury
• Emotionally engaged – they know the needs, conditions, and personalities of their people and what is best for them
• Self-sacrificing – looking out for the interests of others ahead of their own
• Forward looking – anticipating dangers, needs, and opportunities before a crisis occurs.
When the heart is right the rest will follow.