An algorithm is basically a defined method for solving a problem using a fixed number of steps that are performed in a sequential manner. So, what is a ministry algorithm, and what is the problem that needs to be solved?
Let’s begin with the problem first. In simple terms the problem or challenge that faces every church is how to get your fellowship to “walk the walk” and not merely “talk the talk.” After all, one of the most frequent criticisms of the church is that we are all hypocrites: we say one thing but we do something else. Sadly, the criticism is all too often true: we must confess that we don’t live up to the mandate of Scripture, living our lives in the manner we ought. Not to make excuses, but we are, after all human, and it is doubtful there will ever be perfection in the Church this side of eternity. Still, we are called to live lives that are markedly different, lives that are characterized by adherence to a new set of values. These values arise by aligning our lives to a Biblical worldview, by living the life that Jesus would have us live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The church has, more often than not, front-loaded this expectation of new behavior and in some cases has made both fellowship and membership in the local church contingent upon right behavior or right belief. Behave properly and/or believe correctly and you can walk with us (belong) and you will be blessed. It is an attempt to address the problem of Kingdom living by loading the front end, the entrance point with high expectation and so operates its life on the basis of this algorithm: behave, believe, belong, be blessed.
At Grace By the Sea, we are choosing to adopt a different algorithm:
Bless, Belong, Believe, Behave
At Grace By the Sea, we understand our primary mandate is to bless one another, especially those who are new to church life. After all, God accepts each one of us just as we are, and then inwardly brings about a renewal, a transformation. Should we be any different, those of us who are called according to His will and purpose and who seek to live our lives as Jesus would have us live them?
Our Church name defines the inner life of our fellowship; a fellowship of grace.
People who are loved without first having to present right behavior or belief will soon move towards a posture of belonging. After all, who among us does not want to be part of a fellowship of grace where we find acceptance, love, and blessing? Such a fellowship would truly be a “city” built on a hill, a “light” to everyone desiring a place to call home.
Right belief does not come by osmosis, but through correctly handling the Word of God. And so we teach. But acceptance and love are not contingent upon believing: they are the prelude to belief. To be so blessed and so loved, without reservation creates a desire to belong. Belonging, in turn, creates the desire to understand, to confess and to believe: walk with us long enough and you will believe as we believe. You also will find your center in Jesus.
Behavior is the child of the inner transformation that comes through proper application of the Word of God in our lives; by believing with a confessing heart. It is never a question of how much into the Word you are; it is a question of how much the Word is into you that really matters.
So, there you have it: a ministry algorithm; our ministry algorithm.