As I shared recently, even healthy churches are more fragile than we often realize. The fragility of a local church is intentional because God does not need any of us, or a collection of any of us, to accomplish His purposes. In His grace, He invites us to join Him—but He does not need us. Therefore, it is incredibly healthy to embrace our fragility, to rely fully on Him, to remind ourselves that the power is in Him and not in us.
When a church grows to a certain point and feels stable, the beauty of fragility can be lost. While stability is positive, as the church has established a sustained mission and presence in the community, there is a downside. When a church feels secure, when people are contributing financially to amply cover the cost of ministry, when the programs are attended, and the systems are in place—people are less likely to recognize and embrace the church’s fragility.
When we embrace our fragility, we are more desperate for Him, more aware of our dependence on Him, and hungrier for His Spirit to sustain us. To serve the people well, wise leaders remind the church of her fragility. Here are two ways:
Remind the church of her treasure
A local church makes a transformational impact in the lives of people and in the community because of the treasure in the jar, not because of the jar. Church leaders are wise and loving to constantly remind people that a local church is powerful only because the message of Jesus is powerful. We must be careful not to boast in our creativity, our organizational savvy, or our ingenuity—but only in the Lord. Church leaders must continually remind people that the Lord alone is who changes hearts. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones cautioned, “If you can explain what is happening in your church apart from the sovereign work of God, it is not revival.”
Look for opportunities for pronounced fragility
Wise leaders even challenge and work to put a church in an uncomfortable position, knowing that discomfort breeds growth. An uncomfortable position may be a vision that stretches the body, such as a plan to launch a new service or campus or an intense focus on an unreached people group or an under-resourced part of the city. It may be a challenge that intentionally puts a holy sense of “this is bigger than us” in the heart of the church. Regardless of what it is, wise leaders get uneasy when a church begins to feel too comfortable. A new opportunity grants leaders an opportunity to pronounce the church’s fragility once again. It is liberating to be a part of something bigger than us, something that supersedes our ability, something that reminds the church that the mission ultimately is His.
Fragility is the friend of a church leader, not a foe. Wise leaders embrace this quality and lead the people they serve to do so as well.