My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course. Do not carouse with drunkards or feast with gluttons, for they are on their way to poverty, and too much sleep clothes them in rags. Proverbs 23:19-21 (NLT)
What is the Preacher saying here? He is saying, ‘Keep your heart on the right course.’ He has already indicated earlier: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23). He is suggesting that if we get the heart right, everything else will fall into place.
Let’s take this to the local church. The early church leaders showed little concern for issues that were external to the church. Their chief concern was for problems within the church. Internal problems could do serious damage to the church; problems in the world would have little effect – unless church members opened the door to them. So the Preacher’s advice to his son is equally apt for the church. Let’s keep the heart of the church on the right course. Let’s guard the heart of the church above all else because that determines the course of the church.
What is the heart of the church?
It has to be the leadership team, the main influencers in the church. By surveying the thirty main influencers, we get a picture of the health of the whole church.
If we need to improve the health of our church we do not have to ‘lift’ the total congregation. The focus of our strategy should be, must be, the heart of our church, the leaders, the main influencers; where they go, the rest of the church will follow. What they are, the rest of the church is in the process of becoming.
When we accept the survey result as a snapshot of our church’s current reality (where we are now), we are listening deeply and genuinely to the Holy Spirit of God.
Those who have participated in the survey are the main influencers in the church. Where they go, the church goes. What they model, the church does.
Of all the people in the church, we would expect these people to be influenced by the Spirit of God. Therefore it must follow that the survey result is God’s word for us at this time in our history; just as a doctor’s accurate diagnosis of our health is God’s word for us on that matter.
I once heard a pastor ask if it might be possible for the survey result and the Holy Spirit to be in disagreement with each other. The answer given was informative: “If the Holy Spirit and the survey result do not agree, all I can say is your people are inveterate liars.”
When we accept the survey result as a snapshot of our church’s current reality (where we are now), we are listening deeply and genuinely to 30 influencers in our church.
Listening to, and taking notice of, other member’s view of our church may require a fair amount of personal security. It can uncover our own vulnerabilities. We may need to be changed. And if deep down we are feeling fairly insecure, we cannot afford to risk being changed.
We may be prejudiced about the survey result because it is threatening our cherished and long-held perspective. The result may also be challenging to the area we have always felt so comfortable in. It may be suggesting we should go where we have always resisted going in the past. If we accept the result as a snapshot of our church, we will have to deal with a new thing happening. The specter of change frightens most people (see Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey, pages 115-116)
What kinds of changes might the survey result require of us?
Head? Logic? Changes in our thinking (The green area of of the 3 colors of Natural Church Development)?
Heart? Emotion? Changes in our feelings (The blue area of NCD)?
Hands? Action? We may have to break out of some habits we have developed over time (The red area of NCD)?