I often tell churches that they are today what they decided they would be 5, 10, and even 20 years ago. Decisions they made in the past have determined what they would become. There is little we can do about those past choices, but we are free to begin making new choices. It's important that we do that because our churches will be five years from now, ten years from now, and even twenty years from now what we decide today to make them.
Every choice a church makes has a ripple effect in the years to come. Churches that choose not to engage their communities with the Gospel can expect to grow smaller in the years to come. A church that decides to not develop an effective discipleship program can expect to see the people within their congregations become more immature and worldly. Churches that choose to mistreat their pastors can expect in the years to come that they will have trouble attracting good pastors to serve there. Churches that choose to allow controllers to run the church will find good leaders will abandon them, and they will earn such a poor reputation in the community that they will have little to no influence.
Of course, positive choices will result in good consequences. When you see strong, growing churches you can be sure that it is the result of good choices those churches made in the past.
I've often worked with small churches who offered many excuses for why they were small or unable to grow. Now, there are legitimate reasons a church might be small, but in many cases the excuses they gave were just that, excuses. Very rarely did a church say their problems were the result of choices they had made in the past. Even rarer were the churches that wanted help to start making better decisions.
In Dt. 30: 19 Moses tells the Israelites that God "has set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." This is a good message to the church today. Before us is life and death, blessing and cursing, and we get to choose which we will receive. The choice is ours.
Maybe your church is not in a good place right now. Can you identify the past choices that may have led to the present situation your church finds itself in? It might be helpful to know, but there's really nothing you can do about those choices now except to not duplicate them in the future.
What's more important is where your church wants to be a few years down the road. Once you have determined that vision you can begin to identify the choices you need to make that will make that vision possible. Every choice your church confronts needs to be filtered through that vision. You just continually ask, "If we make this choice will it lead us closer to the vision we believe God has given us for this church?" Trust me, it will make your choices much easier to make when you use this filter. Choose life for your church.