by Tony Morgan
For businesses, success is all about the bottom line—money.
Though my mission is to help churches get unstuck, I love the periodic opportunities I have to serve businesses, particularly when the owner is committed to kingdom impact. Businesses are driven by the bottom line. They want to make money. They know that if they don’t make money, they will eventually go out of business. If you ask a business owner about the end result of achieving predictable success, I’m guessing at least nine times out of ten you’ll hear something about achieving a stronger financial bottom line. Because they are so committed to the bottom line, I’ve found these characteristics are true of the businesses I’ve helped:
- They track the bottom line. Everyone on the team knows whether or not their business is meeting their financial objectives.
- If they aren’t making money, there’s a sense of urgency that change needs to happen.
- When they do make money, they don’t settle. They’re always considering “How can we reach more customers and grow the business?”
- They are very focused. If something isn’t adding to the bottom line, they stop doing it.
I believe churches have a bottom line as well. Jesus defined it for us after his resurrection. He told his disciples: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
I can say, unashamedly, that I wish churches were as committed to their bottom line as businesses are to theirs.
Unfortunately, I’ve found these characteristics are true of way too many churches:
- They don’t track their bottom line. Most people on the team don’t know whether or not the church is meeting its discipleship objectives.
- If they aren’t growing (making disciples and baptizing new believers), then many churches don’t have a sense of urgency that change needs to happen.
- If there’s a sense that what they’re doing isn’t working, churches tend to settle. They build ministries and programming around the people who are already at the church rather than consider how they can reach more people and grow the kingdom.
- They are rarely focused. If something isn’t adding to the bottom line, it doesn’t matter. They keep doing it.
Churches have the world’s greatest mission; after all, eternity is at stake. I’m convinced we should be doing everything possible short of sin to see lives changed forever. With that, I want churches to strive for the pinnacle of the life cycle, where they are continually making new disciples and experiencing what I refer to as sustained health. In other words, I don’t want this Matthew 28 season to be a brief moment in time, and I certainly don’t want churches stuck someplace short of their potential. I want more churches to arrive at this place of maximum kingdom impact and stay there. I want it to sustain.
In my new book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health, I will introduce seven phases of a church’s life cycle. I’ve encountered churches in each of these seasons as I’ve helped them get unstuck. After I describe each phase, I’ll offer some specific and strategic next steps—interruptions—that your church can take.
I challenge you to determine where your church is on the life cycle, and then, as a team, identify how to move forward with strength and health.