Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Importance of People Development

A couple of years ago, I read Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal.  McNeal calls for several shifts in emphasis for the church in the 21st century:
·         From an internal to an external focus.
·         From program development to people development.
·         From church-based to kingdom-based leadership.

The one that particularly got my attention was his strong appeal for the church to move from a program-driven focus to a people-centered focus.  He suggests that the effectiveness of a missional church is based more on the quality of its people than the quality (and quantity) of its programs.

In the past, we often operated out of this mindset:  “Here is what we have for you. Come and plug into it.”  We accepted programs that were developed elsewhere and forced them to fit our context.  The question we need to be asking is, “Where are you in your Christian journey and how can we help you live for Christ each day?”

The difference is between an industrial approach and an organic approach.  The industrial, “one size fits all” approach assures church members that an activity is good for them and they should join without any questions asked.  The organic model assumes that each person is unique in the eyes of God and has special needs and opportunities.  By recognizing this uniqueness of each individual, we are also recognizing the unique nature of every fellowship of believers.

McNeal notes: “People don’t go to church; they are the church. They don’t bring people to church; they bring the church to people.” Wherever a believer is, there the church is present.   As we develop and form people who are followers of Christ, we are building up a church uniquely fitted to serve the community in which it is located and the people around it.   What we do with our people makes a difference.

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