How to protect the mission

Gravity is not something we can see or feel. However, it’s constantly at work. Gravity works like a magnet pulling us in invisible, intangible and often unnoticed ways.

Whether we recognize it or not, there’s a special kind of gravity at work every day in the church. The gravitational pull on every church…is to turn inward.

I am convinced that almost every church begins with an outward focus. However, over time, gravity has its way. If you are not careful, you will fail to protect the mission of your church and, in turn, that mission will be abandoned.


All of us are by nature self-centered, and we want what we want. We want programs and ministries that meet our family’s preferences and needs. I call it the sin of preference. In the meantime, we love our church. Our friends do, as well. Over time, we surround ourselves with more and more of these Christian friends who have the same preferences and interests. We may not recognize it at first, but in short order, we will spend very little time sharing the gospel, building relationships with those far from God and inviting others to trust in Christ. We will spend all of our time, effort and energy doing things that promote the interests and preferences of those who follow Christ.

This is how it happens. No one planned this. It just happened.

Slowly, invisibly, gravity has its way…and the church turns into a Christian country club.

Friends, let’s decide today we will not allow this to happen to our church! Let’s fight gravity in our church and protect the mission! How?

1. Teach people to recognize gravity.

As a leader in the church, call out the gravitational pull at work in the church. Teach people to recognize the gravitational pull within the church…and within each of us. Teach people how to repent from and abandon the sin of preference in the church. Challenge them not to think only of themselves.

2. Teach the gospel.

Teach about the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to over after the one. Talk about the lost coin and the lost pearl. Talk about Jesus coming to seek and save those who are lost! Talk about eternity. Talk about Heaven. Talk about Hell. Teach evangelism. Hold people accountable to it. Teach people to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus!

3. Teach people to celebrate what Heaven celebrates.

Heaven rejoices more over one sinner repenting than a whole building full of Christians (my paraphrase of Luke 15:10). Don’t just celebrate new buildings and campuses, and more nickels and noses. Celebrate what Jesus celebrates! Celebrate when people turn from death to life! Celebrate life change. Celebrate people going public with their faith through water baptism. Celebrate when broken people walk through the doors. Celebrate repentance. Celebrate what Jesus celebrates!

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7 (NIV)

These are certainly not the only steps, but they are vital steps you and I can take to protect our church’s mission as we head into a new year.

Published January 17, 2017