Flying home from a recent teaching/mission trip to a third world country, I sank into an exhausted sleep and dreamed a vivid dream. In my dream, I was named pope of the Protestant church, and given sweeping powers to instigate any changes/adjustments/new expectations that I chose. When I awakened from my fantasy, I jotted down some of my plans. I’m saving these notes for that day that I get the call to occupy the papal office.
For now, here’s the rough draft of my 21-point encyclical regarding congregational life:
- All congregational staff members will engage in a 360 performance review bi-annually. Personal and professional goals will be established and carefully monitored annually. Everyone will participate willingly and joyfully, of course.
- Any person serving on staff, or on stewardship, budget, or personnel committees and deacons/elders/session/trustees will be expected to tithe their personal income in any year of service (Please use IRS Form 1040, line 22 to calculate your tithe. Thanks.). A minimum attendance of 20 Sundays per calendar year for the same groups will also apply. No credit given for makeups at the lake or beach, or on a cruise ship.
- The use of email and other forms of social media among the congregation for anything other than announcements, appointments, minutes or setting meeting agendas is prohibited. Personal, face-to-face conversations will be the norm.
- Ministerial staff will be expected to spend a minimum of 50 percent of their workweek outside the physical office of the church. At least 20 percent of each work week (one day) will be spent engaging with non-church members, and preferably non-Christians.
- All former staff members, upon retirement, will be required to completely cease participating in the life of their former congregation for at least a year. Afterward, any future engagement in the life of the church will be at the invitation of their successor.
- All small group leaders, Bible study leaders and Sunday school teachers will be required to follow agreed-upon curriculum and best leadership practices. Talking endlessly about college football or politics will no longer be counted as Bible study.
- Any introduction of secular politics into the life of the congregation will be grounds for termination and/or church discipline, which will involve extended sessions of watching of “The Jerry Springer Show” reruns.
- Each congregation will be required to start a minimum of four off-site church plants/mission points each calendar year.
- Any Bible study group, Sunday school class or life group that does not add at least one new member in a calendar year will be disbanded.
- All team leaders, deacons, elders, ministers and committee chairs will be required to participate in a minimum of one mission trip/major project each year.
- All team leaders, deacons, elders, ministers and committee chairs will be expected to be actively discipling at least two fellow believers at any given time.
- No more than 66 percent of each year’s operating budget may be spent on internal church concerns. Special recognition will be given to churches that eventually achieve a 50/50 balance between internal and external spending.
- Personal opinions regarding the style of music utilized by your church are to be expressed only to family pets.
- Leadership eligibility in every position of the church will be determined based upon spiritual maturity, emotional maturity, Christ-likeness, and the exhibition of the fruits of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5. Factors such as tenure, popularity, gender, age and income will have no bearing upon a person’s eligibility to serve in any position.
- All ministerial search processes will engage external coaching and assistance with regard to healthy methodology and process.
- All members of the church will be able to recite and expound upon the God-given purpose, vision and mission of their church, and the ways in which they are personally involved in bringing those dreams to reality.
- Every preacher will have a preaching coach, and will listen to him/her.
- No committee or team meetings are allowed on Sundays. Sabbath means Sabbath.
- All capital campaigns will be tithed to church planting efforts in third world settings. (Can be combined with No. 10)
- Anyone expressing their personal biases, prejudices, judgmental attitudes, murmurings, complaining or condescending spirit toward other human beings will be forced to listen to an endless loop of 1980s heavy metal music.
- Any person who does not exhibit the spirit and character of Jesus while talking about, studying about, singing about, preaching about, praying to or worshipping Jesus will be sent to time out for a very long time.
As you can see, I have some very ambitious plans for the Protestant church of the future. I actually believe these suggestions are worth pursuing.
All I need is an invitation.