Blood Sweat and Tears

Dr. Chas RowlandCritical self-evaluation is important. It is necessary for success. There are times when a pastor or church planter has to take a time-out and honestly re-evaluate things. What is my church really like? Is my church doing what I want it to do? Does my church look like I want it to look? Asking these questions are critical to keep your church from becoming dry, dead, ineffective, and stagnant.

The problem is, honest critique about our church or ministry is different than critiquing most other organizations or philosophies. There is one large trap that can sabotage the success of honest, well-meaning, self-critique. We can forget who owns the church. You see, the ownership of the church matters. Even though we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into the church, we have to remember that Jesus literally poured His blood, sweat, and tears into the church too... except, His blood, sweat, and tears actually purchased the church. Revelation 5:9 says, "You [Christ] were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."

Jesus' blood, sweat, and tears are infinitely more important and valuable than yours or mine because His actually purchased ownership of the church. Although we know this as foundational to Christianity, and it is at the heart of the gospel message itself, it seems as if we sometimes forget it when it comes to leading the church. We must keep His ownership of the church in focus. No matter how much we give or sacrifice for the church, Christ gave more – the church is His, and His alone. We are merely stewards, watching, caring, and guiding in His stead, until He comes to claim the church finally and completely.

Whether you have pastored a church for 50 years or planted a church yourself just last year, the church belongs to Christ. He is the head of the body, and therefore He has the right to give instruction on how church should be ordered and what should be done. You have no right to do what you want with the church, because it is not yours. We must self-evaluate, but we must evaluate based upon the design of Scripture. We must critique based upon God's standards – not our own.

This makes critical self-evaluation tricky because we cannot be lulled into that false sense of pride that says, "this is my church, and I need to make this look like me." No. The church is the bride of Christ; and our job is to equip the bride look more like the groom. That is, after all, why Jesus bought the church in the first place – to be conformed into His image. There are too many churches being planted who are being conformed into the image of the church planter.

At the end of the day, the question of who owns the church, is not one of merely doctrinal significance. Understanding who owns the church will determine who or what the church looks like. May the Lord give us the blessing of pouring our blood sweat and tears into a church that looks like the Savior. I have seen myself. I know what I look like – inside and out. Jesus is far better.