Ministry vehicles and change

By Bob Bickford

Remember your first car? Mine was a used, 1977, cherry-red Pontiac Firebird. I remember thinking I had hit the automotive jackpot as I was driving away from finalizing the purchase. That feeling lasted a few short weeks. The car had a host of problems and breakdowns. It looked good, but it ran awful!

The American automotive industry in those days sought to secure profitability, not by building quality cars, but in knowing the buying public would accept vehicles that would break down and need replacing around 100,000 miles. These companies bet the farm the buying public would come back and purchase another vehicle out of brand loyalty.

In the ’80s, that business plan was disrupted by the introduction of vehicles from Japan which were more affordable, reliable, and durable. The Big Three auto makers fell hard.

Many plateaued and declined churches are like the Big Three automakers of the ’80s. They are deeply committed to ministry vehicles that no longer work, yet they refuse to abandon them. And as a result, they aren’t going anywhere.

Ministry Vehicle:A program or practice utilized for a season to accomplish a specific purpose or objective in reaching and growing people for Christ and glorifying God.

Understand this, I am not advocating abandoning the gospel or the compromise of biblical doctrine, or elevating pragmatics to be the primary evaluation metric. Far from it! I’m simply asking: Are we committed to ministry vehicles that are no longer able to take us where we are being called by God to go? Are our ministry vehicles leading us in the accomplishing of the Great Commission?

It’s easy to fall in love with a ministry vehicle and want to keep it around. Honestly, I’d still love to have my first car (in restored condition!) But I also realize it costs a lot in terms of time and resource to keep an old vehicle running . God has not called us (the church) to be curators in a museum of old vehicles, but people on a mission, ever moving forward into a world that needs to hear the gospel.,

Published October 11, 2018

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Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick