When the apostle Paul challenged the believers in Philippi in their obedience to the Lord, he told them: “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me” (Philippians 4:9). When he wrote the believers in Corinth, he said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Though not perfect, Paul was willing to say, “You can imitate what you see in me.” Church leaders are wise to constantly evaluate their lives to ensure they can say the same thing. Here are four hard questions to ask yourself.
How evangelistic would our church be if:
How evangelistic would our church be if my example were imitated? In many churches we have an evangelism crisis. In many places few people are converted, not because our message is weak but because our message is not heralded. The gospel is still the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, but the gospel often is not shared. If every person in our church shared the gospel as frequently and intentionally as I do, would our church be reaching more or less people than we are currently?
How generous would our church be if:
How generous would our church be if my generosity were imitated? The apostle Paul challenged the Corinthian Christians to excel in the grace of giving because they knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though He was rich became poor to make us rich (2 Corinthians 8:7-9). If my sacrifice, my commitment to our mission expressed through the level of my giving, were replicated, would our church be more or less generous?
How connected would our church be if:
How connected would our church be if my relationships with God’s people were imitated? Sadly, many churches are led by “cuckoo clock pastors,” those who disappear from people into their secret boxes and then pop out to deliver a word. Many pastors preach about community while living in isolation. Many promote groups/classes without being in one. My brothers, this should not be.
How prayerful would our church be if:
How prayerful would our church be if my prayers were imitated? John Owen said, “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.” A praying pastor is a powerful pastor. A prayerful church is a powerful church. Our prayers reveal our level of self-sufficiency. If we are lacking in prayer, we reveal that we actually believe we can lead our churches and change lives apart from the power of God. As my friend Stephen Kendrick says, “Our churches must be houses of prayer, not houses of programs.” If everyone prayed like you, how prayerful would your church be?
We all stumble, all of us. The closer we grow to Christ, the more we see our own sinfulness and grow grateful for His grace. But as leaders, we must give people an example of what it looks like to grow in the grace of Jesus. D.L. Moody said, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” The bottom line question is: Can I say, “Follow Me”?