One of the books I'm currently reading is Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive by T. D. Jakes. Although I've only began reading it I am enjoying the insights he brings to the subject. He makes a comment about people's expectations when he writes, "People adapt to their own expectations. In other words, we often behave based on our perceptions more than the reality of our actual circumstances." As I read that I realized that this describes the situations that exist in many of our churches.
Someone once commented: If you think you can or think you can't, you'll be right. Often, what determines what we achieve is based not on reality or our circumstances but on our perceptions of what we can accomplish. Self-limited thinking is what holds many people and churches back, not a lack of opportunities that might be before them.
A few days ago I had a post on this blog entitled "But we're just a small church." Churches with this mindset often cannot see the opportunities for ministry they have because they've stopped looking. In their minds, they are just a small church with such limited resources that they couldn't do anything anyway so why bother seeking out ministry opportunities? They allow their church facility to fall into disrepair, they settle for poor leadership, both pastoral and lay, they offer outdated programs and ministries, they tolerate uninspiring worship services, all because they long ago stopped thinking they could do any better. They adapted to their expectations of what small churches are, and those expectations became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It doesn't have to be like that. Your church sits in the midst of a huge mission field that needs Jesus Christ. God has placed you there so you can be the hands and feet and voice of Christ to a community that desperately needs to encounter the living Son of God. Within your congregation are people with spiritual gifts that can be expressed in new and exciting ministries launched by your church. Leadership can be trained and developed. New ministries that actually touch the lives of people can be started. Regardless of what your church has been in the past, it can have a brand new beginning and become what God has intended it to be all along.
For any of this to happen, it will require a new set of expectations on the part of your congregation. They can no longer settle for what is but begin to look for new possibilities and believe that they can do something about those possibilities when they find them. Your church must begin to believe that it has been placed where it is for such a time as this, and that God wants to do amazing things in and through your congregation. You need to expect that something good is going to happen every time your doors are open and every time you represent Jesus Christ to those around you.
Expectations by themselves change nothing, but having the right expectations will provide you with the proper foundation to begin doing new things that will make a positive difference in your life, your ministry, and your community.