I wish I had some $ for every time I’ve heard that question since we started The Ridge. Or better yet, those who’ve come through and leave saying, “Well you all don’t have…” or “We’re gonna go where they…” If I had some $ for all of those, we’d be in great financial shape!
My friend Michael blogged my thoughts and what I’ve been saying since we started. Great to hear someone else confirming that. He says it so well, I’m just gonna let him talk:
From time to time, we get emails and comments from folks asking if we have a particular ministry. Or sometimes they wonder when we will be starting a ministry. Sometimes, they ask because their last church had it. Sometimes, they ask because they are passionate about it.
Here’s a few examples.
Do you have something for teenagers on Sunday? Yes. It’s called the church service. In other churches, this might be referred to as “big church.” But we believe that nothing is more effective on Sunday morning than students and adults worshiping together and hearing the Word of God. Why would we want to pull teenagers out of a great environment that’s appropriate for them and try to duplicate what we’re already doing?
Do you have a men’s ministry? Yes. It’s called go to church, get involved and lead your family. You really don’t need 50 dudes on motorcycles to accomplish that. If you want to be a real man and Christian leader, you should volunteer with kids or students or parking or production or be a greeter. And if you want to go camping or riding, you don’t need me to validate your hobby by calling it a ministry. Just get some guys and go.
Do you have Awanas? Nope. And we’re probably won’t have it in the future. Not because we have anything against mid-week kids programs, but because we’re not trying to busy up the lives of families. You’ve got sports, school and church on the weekend. Instead of dropping your kids off at church all the time, you can spend some time with them talking about God. That’s WAY more effective than more programs for kids.
We are decidedly simple at Oak Leaf Church, meaning that we don’t have a buffet of ministries. Instead, we try to focus on the weekend, connecting people in teams and groups, and serving the community.
This is EXACTLY what we have said from the beginning of The Ridge. It is sometimes tempting to try and appease people by offering some program they want just so they’ll stay. However, the bottom line is we want to be simple with our programs and streamlined with our very limited resources so as to be most effective in accomplishing what God has called us to do.
God has simply called us to “Impact Another Generation By Changing People’s Perspectives.” We feel that is what Jesus was all about. There are four areas that He has called us to be about His work of changing people’s perspectives:
- Change people’s perspective on the CHURCH – most people have some pre-conceived idea about “church”, some good, some bad. The church is not a place you go, but a people we are. It isn’t an organization that is here to meet our needs, we are a group of Christ followers who are being transformed by His grace and growing to be more like Jesus, whose mission is to carry the Gospel to the world. For those who are unchurched, we want them to see the church as just that: a community of people who are real, loving, dedicated, growing followers of Jesus.
- Change people’s perspective on GOD – actually this is His work…the work of the Holy Spirit…to begin changing people’s hearts, to reveal Himself to us. When our perspective on God changes according to His Word, then a faith step happens.
- Changing people’s perspective on THEMSELVES – As we begin a faith journey as a disciple of Christ…a follower and a learner… God grows us and draws us closer to Him. he begins to change us and work on us from the inside out. My perspective on ME changes. I realize that everything isn’t about me, but about Him.
- Changing people’s perspective on OTHERS – when my perspective on God, myself, and His church changes, my perspective on other people will change. I will no longer see them in the same way. I will view them as people in need of rescue and I will do everything I can to accomplish that mission. I will see them as people who need to be cared for and ministered to; I will see them as Christ followers who need to be encouraged and helped to grow. I won’t be as concerned about myself and what programs I have or don’t have, but I’ll begin to see others the way Jesus does.
We also feel that the best way for us to impact another generation…a generation yet to be born, as Psalm 78 challenges us…it must be done through the family. Men need to lead spiritually, women need to come alongside them and support, pray for and encourage that leadership. Children are to learn from, respect and honor their parents. Teenagers are not the “last children of the church, but the first adults” and should be encouraged and challenged to BE the church, complete the Great Commission, serve faithfully, give obediently not look to be entertained.
This is the vision of The Ridge. This is what God has called us to do. In the words of Tony Dungy, the great NFL coach, about his philosphy as a coach, “Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations. We do what we do.”
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galations 1:10